Extremist Israeli settlers have set fire to a mosque, causing damage to the structure and sprayed graffiti on its walls in the Palestinian village of Jaba in the occupied West Bank.
Local sources reported that the settlers wrote racist graffiti on some of the walls of the mosque, including the “Price Tag” graffiti that they frequently use when attacking and burning Palestinian mosques, and property.
Locals in Jabba said that the assailants wrote on the walls in Hebrew: “The war has started” and “You will pay the price.”
"Price-tag” attacks refer to acts of vandalism, intimidation and violence carried out against Palestinian targets by extremist settlers in the West Bank in retaliation for the government’s removal of outposts, roadblocks and other perceived anti-settler actions.
The mosque vandalism came only one day after a similar arson attempt targeted the historic mosque of Okasha in Jerusalem. Before setting parts of the mosque ablaze, the settlers spray-painted racist graffiti targeting the Palestinians and the Muslim prophet.
An Israeli police spokesman said investigators were "looking into the possibility that it was a 'Price Tag' attack" -- referring to retribution settlers say they will exact for any attempt by the Israeli government to curb Jewish settlement in the West Bank. However, the Israeli police rarely detain the assailants.
For his part, Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned the attack. "This was the work of intolerant, irresponsible lawbreakers," he declared. "We will act quickly in order to bring them to justice."
Meanwhile, the PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement warning the attack of any place of worship, Muslim or Christian, is dangerous as it is considered a call for religious war.
Israel wants to destroy the peace process, and such Israeli activities are making this happen, it said.
The ministry called on the international community and United Nations to respond to the attack, and protect places of worship.
Earlier, suspected extremist Israeli settlers spray-painted racist graffiti on a church in occupied East Jerusalem. The graffiti included “Death to Christians” and the phrase “price tag” was found on the walls of the Baptist Narkis Street Congregation. Furthermore residents of the area found their car tires slashed.
In a separate incident on Tuesday, dozens of trees burned down near East Jerusalem on Tuesday morning, in an accidental fire that raged for three hours, Palestinian civil defense said.
The blaze, started with tires and solid waste, spread to a nearby forest area in Al-Eizariya, near Israel's separation wall, a statement said.
Palestinian fire fighters were able to contain the fire after three hours, it added.