Mosque in West Bank village set alight in suspected 'price tag' attack
Unidentified vandals set fire to a Palestinian
mosque, spray-paint graffiti on its walls; IDF: Attack could undermine
security in the area.
Chaim Levinson and
A mosque in the West Bank village of Jab'a, located south of Ramallah,
was set on fire in a suspected "price tag" arson attack early Tuesday
Graffiti carrying messages such as "The war has begun" and "You will pay the price" was spray-painted on the mosque's walls.
Shin Bet agents and police, accompanied by a heavy contingent of IDF
soldiers, were combing the area for clues and interrogating witnesses in
the village on Tuesday morning.
The mosque appears to have been attacked around 1:30 A.M. While none of
the villagers saw the arsonists, they noticed the fire following the
attack and hurried to extinguish it.
According to villagers, while the incident was immediately reported to
the IDF, the army only arrived on the scene around 6 A.M.
Jab'a is located near Highway 60, a central traffic artery in the West
Bank, but the access road to the village is blocked by large dirt
mounds. Police are still investigating whether the attackers arrived by
car or on foot.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak condemned the attack on Tuesday morning,
calling it "a grave and criminal act, meant to harm the fabric of life
in the area and distract the IDF and the security forces from their
missions, which include protecting Israeli citizens in the area."
Barak added that he had instructed the IDF and Israel's security forces
to use "all means" to find the perpetrators of the attack and bring
them to justice.
The IDF said it views the incident gravely and that it could undermine the stability of security in the area.
"Price tag" attacks are generally carried out by West Bank settlers and
their supporters against Palestinian targets, often in retaliation for
moves against settlements.
Tuesday morning's attack followed an extensive drill by Israel Police on Monday, held in preparation for the expected evacuation of the Ulpana Hill neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El.
Earlier this month, vandals carried out similar actions in the East Jerusalem neighborhood Shuafat, as well as in the Jewish-Arab village of Neveh Shalom.
Also in early June, a number of Middle East experts warned Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that continued settlement construction or
the burning of a major mosque by Jewish extremists could ignite a third intifada in the West Bank
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