Tensions rise in West Bank as settlers vandalize mosque


Ramallah: Tensions in the West Bank rose Friday as settlers torched a Palestinian village mosque in anger at a government decision to partially suspend Israeli construction in the occupied territory.

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Hundreds of Palestinians, in return, rioted after Friday’s prayers, burning tires and throwing rocks in at least two locations in the West Bank.

Unidentified settlers overnight entered the village of Yasouf, near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, forced the door of the local mosque and poured gasoline in the library, burning bookshelves and prayer rugs.

Palestinian police spokesman Munir Jagoub said that the fire caused serious damage to the library, where copies of the Quran are kept.

The settlers also spray-painted hate slogans in Hebrew, one of which, on the floor in black letters, said, “prepare for price tag, regards from Effi.”

The phrase was a reference to threats by radical settlers to put a “price tag” on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to suspend the construction of new homes in West Bank settlements for 10 months. Effi is an Israeli male name.

Residents rushed to the mosque to extinguish the fire and prevent it from spreading to the rest of the building. Israeli soldiers arrived at the village after the attack, said the police spokesman.

The vandals were suspected of having come from the nearby Jewish settlement of Tapuah. Some 200 Palestinians from the village marched toward the settlement after the end of Friday’s prayers, a military spokeswoman in Tel Aviv said.

They threw stones at Israeli soldiers who arrived at the scene. Six Palestinians were reported treated for teargas inhalation.

Palestinians also threw firebombs and rocks at an Israeli settler’s car travelling southeast of Qalqiliya, she added.

Netanyahu announced the partial settlement moratorium last week, after coming under pressure from the US to stop Israeli construction in the occupied West Bank.