World Bulletin/News Desk
Palestinian Religious Endowments Minister Yusuf Adeis has said that the torching on Wednesday of a West Bank mosque by Jewish settlers was proof of "racist Israeli incitement" against Muslim and Christian houses of worship in the Palestinian territories.
"This crime constitutes blatant aggression against Muslims and Muslim sentiments," Adeis said in a statement.
He added that Jewish settlers in the West Bank had continued to violate Muslims' cultural identity.
Earlier Wednesday, a group of extremist Jewish settlers set fire to parts of a mosque in the occupied territory, eyewitnesses said.
The first floor of the mosque – located in Ramallah's al-Mogheer village – was completely destroyed, while a second floor had been partially damaged, witnesses told Anadolu Agency.
Settlers also scrawled "Death to Arabs" and other anti-Arab slogans on the walls of the mosque, witnesses added.
Adeis called on international Islamic organizations, such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, along with the governments of Muslim countries, to work together to end Israeli violations against Muslim houses of worship.
In October alone, he said, extremist Jewish settlers had carried out 110 separate attacks on such sites across the Palestinian territories.
Increasingly frequent settler attacks on Muslim houses of worship in the occupied territories anger Palestinians and occasionally lead to violent confrontations.
Tension has run high in occupied East Jerusalem since late last month, when Israeli authorities temporarily closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex after an extremist Jewish rabbi was injured in a drive-by shooting in West Jerusalem.
Unrest mounted further after Israeli forces killed a young Palestinian man suspected of shooting the rabbi in a raid on his East Jerusalem home.
Aggravating the situation further, several Israeli MPs have forced their way into the Al-Aqsa complex in recent weeks, drawing the ire of Muslim worshippers and official condemnation from Arab and Muslim countries.
Jewish settlers, too, have recently entered the mosque compound in large numbers, triggering clashes between Muslim worshippers and Israeli forces.
Over the past week, at least two Israelis – one police officer and one settler – were killed and several others injured in attacks by Palestinians.
For Muslims, Al-Aqsa represents the world's third holiest site. Jews, for their part, refer to the area as the "Temple Mount," claiming it was the site of two Jewish temples in ancient times.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to Al-Aqsa by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon triggered what later became known as the "Second Intifada," a popular uprising against Israel's decades-long occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.Last Mod: 13 Kasım 2014, 00:16