Settlers Set Mosque Ablaze, Open Fire on Homes

BETHLEHEM, February 25, 2015 (WAFA) – Extremist Jewish settlers Wednesday set a mosque on fire and sprayed anti-Arab graffiti on its walls, in a village near Bethlehem, according to local sources.

Head of the Jab’a village council, Numan Hamdan, told WAFA a group of settlers broke into the village, located southwest of Bethlehem, at about 4AM before they set a mosque on fire. The mosque was partially damaged as local residents were able to put the blaze off.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers from the illegal settlement of Beitar Illit near Bethlehem opened fire at homes in the nearby village of Nahalin, according to witnesses.

The witnesses said a group of armed settlers were riding motorbikes when they pointed their rifles and opened gunfire towards Palestinian homes in the village.

No casualties were reported, yet the terrorist attack on the village caused a state of fear among local residents, especially children.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement condemning the terror attack, which coincides with the 21st anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, saying the attack was systematic rather than individual.

“This [attack] comes as part of an official Israeli campaign aimed at provoking sectarianism,” the ministry said. “This attack uncovers the high level of extremism that has recently grown up in the Israeli society.”

Jewish settlers have repeatedly attacked Palestinian property and worship places. Settler violence includes property and mosque arson, stone-throwing, uprooting of crops and olive trees, attacks on vulnerable homes, among others.

According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, Israeli security forces do not always deploy in advance to protect Palestinians from settler violence, even when such violence could be anticipated. “In some cases, rather than restricting violent settlers, Israeli security forces impose restrictions on the Palestinians.”