Palestinian mosque set ablaze in West Bank

June 7, 2011 - 9:28 AM

Mideast Israel Palestinians

Palestinians stand next to a graffiti reading

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Arsonists torched a West Bank mosque early Tuesday and scrawled Hebrew graffiti on one of its walls.

The Palestinian mayor of el-Mughayer village said a tire was set ablaze inside the mosque in an apparent attempt to burn down the building.

No one claimed responsibility for the act, but suspicion fell upon Jewish settlers, both because they have carried out similar acts in the past and because the graffiti read, "Price tag, Aley Ayin."

"Price tag" is a settler practice of attacking Palestinians in revenge for Israeli government operations against settlers. Aley Ayin is a small, unauthorized settler outpost that was evacuated by security forces last week.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the act, calling it "a heinous act of provocation."

Noting Netanyahu's comment, U.N. Mideast envoy Robert Serry said in a statement, "The actions of Israeli extremists are highly provocative and threatening." He called on Israel to "ensure the accountability of those responsible and protect the human rights of Palestinians and their property."

Mayor Faraj al-Nassan said villagers discovered the fire when they went to the mosque for morning prayers.

Prayer rugs were burned, but the fire did not spread extensively.