West Bank settlers are suspected of attempting to set fire on Tuesday morning to a mosque in the West Bank village of Maghayer, breaking through a window and rolling burning tires into the mosque in order to maximize damage. The attackers left a message in Hebrew scrawled on the mosque’s walls, reading “price tag” and “Alei Ayin,” suggesting that the acts came in response to last week’s evacuation by Israel of the illegal outpost of Alei Ayin. Maghayer is a small village near Ramallah, which has been subject to continuous harassment from settlers from the nearby settlement of Yidi’at.
Darwish Elhaj Mohammad, the imam of the mosque, told 972 that the settlers burned between 25 and 30 Qurans. Using two burning tires, they also succeeded in destroying the carpets and the wall. According Imam Darwish, this incident is one in a series of attacks aimed at seizing the village’s agricultural land.
The acts were quickly condemned across the Palestinian religious and political spectrum. Within hours, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the immediate restoration of the mosque. The village residents intend to have the mosque repaired and ready for Friday prayers .
The Israel Police arrived in the morning and took the imam’s statement. Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minster Ehud Barak condemned the attack, calling it a criminal act and vowing to find and bring to justice those responsible. However, it should be noted that despite these vows, just a few miles north of Maghayer in the Nablus area, two other mosques have been vandalized, and no one has been indicted for either attack. Palestinians in Maghayer told 972 that they have little faith in police efforts to catch the perpetrators.