Palestinian officials suspect a gang of Jewish assailants vandalised a West Bank mosque on Friday, torching its library and spraying hate messages in Hebrew in the northern West Bank's Yasuf village.
The village's mayor, Abdul Rahim Musleh, told a Palestinian news agency, the fire destroyed copies of the Quran and carpets which were inside.
One of the slogans sprayed on a wall read: "Get ready to pay the price." Another read: "We will burn you all."
Residents of the village scrambled to put out the fire, he said. Palestinian Authority security forces also arrived and began an investigation.
The modern mosque stands in the center of the village home to 2,000 Palestinians.
The area is home to some of the most hardline settlers who advocate a "price tag" policy under which they attack Palestinians in retaliation for any Israeli government measure.
The Israeli military said it views the incident "gravely" and that security forces are working to locate the "perpetrators", in a statement.
Last week, a house and three vehicles were set on fire in another village, also near the West Bank city of Nablus. The owner of the house told police he saw three Jewish settlers start the fires.
Israeli settlers have expressed "outrage" over the government's decision to impose a 10-month moratorium on new building permits for settlements in the occupied West Bank.
However, an Israeli cabinet minister said, the population of Jewish settlements in the West Bank could grow by 10,000 in the coming year despite a declared "freeze" on Israeli building in the occupied territory.
Begin is a member of the ministerial commission responsible for the implementation of the 10-month moratorium on new building permits for settler buildings announced two weeks ago amid US-led pressure to freeze settlement construction.
The moratorium excludes settlements in occupied Arab east Jerusalem and several thousand buildings where construction has already started.
Last Mod: 11 Aralık 2009, 15:35