Middle East

Arson attack on Palestinian mosque in West Bank

Burnt prayer rugs in the mosque at El Mughriah near Ramallah
Image caption Fire damage from a burning tyre, thrown into a mosque near Ramallah

A mosque in the West Bank has been attacked in the middle of the night.

A burning tyre was thrown into the mosque in the village of El Mughriah near Ramallah, and Hebrew graffiti was daubed on the walls.

Israeli and Palestinian officials said the attackers were Jewish settlers, retaliating for the dismantling of unauthorised Jewish settler housing nearby.

The Israeli army condemned the attack and said it was investigating.

Villagers said they awoke for morning prayers to find smoke billowing from their mosque.

The slogan "Price tag, Aley Ayin" was scrawled in Hebrew on the wall.

Aley Ayin was an unauthorised settler outpost, which the Israeli authorities cleared last week.

There has been a pattern of recent attacks, dubbed "price tag" on Palestinian property by radical Jewish settlers, after the authorities acted to curb their illegal expansion.

Image caption The graffiti in Hebrew means; 'Price tag, Aley Ayin'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the attack in a statement: "This is a criminal act intended as a provocation. Israel has pioneered respect of freedom of worship and will work decisively against all who harm this principle."

The fire burned prayer rugs, but did not spread far.

No one has admitted carrying out the attack.

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