The Anti-Defamation League on Monday condemned the torching of a Palestinian mosque in the West Bank, an act believed to have been carried out by angry settlers as part of their "price tag operation.
"We are outraged by the attack on the mosque in Bayt Fajar,” Anti-Defamation League Israel office said in a statement. “We join with Israeli officials in condemning this act of hate, and hope that the joint IDF-Palestinian investigative team will identify and apprehend the perpetrators of this vicious act and bring them to justice according to the law."
"These violent acts, which are believed to be the work of Israeli Jewish extremists," are unacceptable, added the ADL. "Political opposition should be expressed in peaceful and legal ways”.
Bayt Fajar residents allege that a group of settlers, apparently from the nearby Gush Etzion settlement bloc, entered the village in the early hours and burnt down the mosque before residents were able to kick them out.
Residents rushed to the mosque when they saw the flames and began fighting with settlers at the scene, they added. Israeli soldiers arrived in the area and broke up the fight and forced the settlers to leave.
Carpets in the mosque and about a dozen copies of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, were burnt, witnesses said.
The Israel Defense Forces and Defense Minister Ehud Barak decried the act and vowed to track down the perpetrators.
The attack is thought to be the latest in so-called "price tag" operations, intended to pressure the Israel government away from making concessions regarding settlement building in the West Bank.
In April, two vehicles in a Palestinian village in the northern West Bank were torched with vandals scrawling the words "price tag" on one of the cars, in what had likely been a protest against Israel's settlement freeze, then still in affect.
A similar incident was carried that same week, when unknown vandals sprayed a Star of David with the name Mohammed beside it on a mosque in the West Bank village of Hawara.
The words "Thank you God, for not making me a Gentile" were spray-painted elsewhere in the village and two cars were torched in another location. No suspects have yet been caught.
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