World Bulletin/News Desk
A mosque was set alight in a suspected arson attack in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday and the name of an Israeli vigilante group called "price tag" was found scribbled on an outside wall, Palestinian officials and witnesses said.
Israeli police said they were investigating the incident, which took place in Aqraba, a village east of Nablus.
Residents told Reuters they noticed smoke coming from the building before dawn and rushed to douse the flames, which damaged a carpet and blackened one of the walls.
"If we hadn't rushed to put out the fire the entire building could have gone up in flames," said Maher Fares, a villager.
Ghassan Daghlas, a Palestinian official from the Nablus area, said he suspected Jewish settlers in the area had carried out the attack. The settlement of Itamar is about 4 km (2.2 miles) north of Aqraba.
“At least 10 settlers smashed the doors and the windows of Abu Bakr Mosque and sprayed racist graffiti on the walls, before setting the mosque on fire," Ghassan Daghlas told Anadolu Agency.
Hebrew script reading "price tag" had been scrawled on the outside of the mosque, a Reuters cameraman said.
The "price tag" group has carried out scores of attacks on Palestinian, Israeli Arab, and church property in the West Bank and inside Israel since 2008. The group says it aims to exact a price for any opposition to settlement building.
A number of Palestinian vehicles and farms were recently torched, while mosques and churches have been spray-painted with the Star of David – a symbol associated with Israel – and racist phrases in apparent retaliation for perceived threats to Israeli settlement expansion.
The latest incidents drew condemnation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli authorities, however, have so far failed to take any action against the attacks.
Palestinian officials, for their part, say such incidents often take place while Israeli army or police personnel look on passively.
A Palestinian draft resolution, according to a recent statement by Palestinian Abbas at the U.N. General Assembly, will seek to apply the "two-state solution," providing the Palestinians with an independent state within the pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Güncelleme Tarihi: 14 Ekim 2014, 12:49