Arson attack on West Bank mosque outrages Palestinians

09:14, June 08, 2011      

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by Emad Drimly, Saud Abu Ramadan

As outraged Palestinians accused Israeli settlers of setting a mosque in the West Bank on fire by surrounding the mosque with flaming car tires early Tuesday morning, the Israeli government vowed to punish the assailants.

The Palestinians said dozens of Israeli settlers surrounded a mosque in the village of al-Mughayar near the city of Ramallah with burning tires, adding that graffiti were written on the mosque's walls in Hebrew saying that "this is the start of avenge. "

Sources at the office of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told Xinhua that Abbas had instructed to immediately renovate the assaulted mosque, while Ramallah's governor Laila Ghannam told a news conference that the "crime is totally condemned and denounced. "

"It is clear that the settlers are behind burning the mosque in order to terrify the Palestinians by attacking their private properties and their holy houses of worshipping," said Ghannam, adding that the governorate of Ramallah will immediately work on renovating the mosque.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) cabinet headed by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad also condemned the act, saying in a press statement that "the ongoing aggressive and terrorist actions of the settlers would urge an immediate international intervention to protect our people."

"The Israeli government is fully responsible for such severe and dangerous violations practiced by the settlers," said the statement.

"Setting fire on the mosque is a proof of the settlers' barbarian campaign against our holy sites," said Palestinian minister of religious affairs Ibrahim al-Habash, who added that the Palestinian National Authority "will do all its best to confront such aggressive attacks."

Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, Mufti in the Palestinian territories, said the attack on the mosque "is part of an ongoing programmed policy aiming at igniting the flames of the conflicts and showing the inattention of the human and religious values."

He called on the Arabs and Muslims all over the world to stop these attacks, adding that "the Israeli assaults have no limits and no values, where it is growing up day after day."

"Committing such a crime of burning a mosque while the soldiers of the Israeli occupation are watching means that Israel is supporting and backing terrorism that aims at forcing our people to leave their homes and lands," Abbas' Fatah party said in a statement, which warned the settlers against "more terrorist crimes."

The Islamic Hamas movement, which rules the Gaza Strip, said in a press statement emailed to reporters that "this is a clear violation of all international laws and religions. It is really a fanaticism."

"Having soldiers standing not far from the mosque means that the soldiers and settlers are partners and both had shared this coward act," said the Hamas statement. "The soldiers of the occupation forces had apparently protected the assailants and let them easily leave the area."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the arson without confirming the Palestinian accusations that the settlers were behind the attack. He called the act in a statement broadcasted by Israel Radio as "an awful crime."

"It is a crime that was committed for provocations," Netanyahu said, adding that he hoped that those who committed this crime " would be immediately detained. Israel has been always called for the freedom of worship and respect it, and those who committed it will be punished."

Israeli settlers had earlier attacked and burned several mosques in the West Bank and written anti-Palestinians graffiti on their walls.

There are half a million settlers living in around 120 settlements in the West Bank, while the number of Palestinians is about 3 million.

Source: Xinhua
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