Israeli settlers have attempted to burn down a mosque in Sharafat, a Palestinian village just south-west of East Jerusalem. Eyewitnesses described extensive damage to the interior alongside racist graffiti and the deliberate burning of copies of the Quran held at the holy site.
Infiltrating the village at the break of dawn, the arsonists seemingly had no other intention than committing an act of terror, entering the mosque before morning prayers and setting fire to the interior.
The Israeli settlers are said to have set fire to walls and carpets and daubed racist graffiti throughout the mosque, causing extensive damage before local worshippers managed to extinguish the flames and call the emergency services.
Speaking with the Palestinian Maan News Agency, eyewitnesses said that upon making their way to the mosque for prayer, they found the scene sealed off by Israeli police and now closed to the public while an investigation is held.
“Police were summoned to a mosque in Beit Safafa, in Jerusalem, following a report of arson in one of the building’s rooms and spraying of graffiti on a nearby wall outside the building. A widescale search is taking place in Jerusalem”Micky Rosenfeld, Israeli police
This new case of arson is merely the latest in a series of long-running terror attacks against mosques and churches across the occupied territories by increasingly fanatical and right-wing settler communities. While investigations are opened as a matter of formality, there are rarely any arrests or prosecutions for the attacks from Israeli authorities.
“This is price tag. The settlers didn’t only write words, they also burnt the place and they burnt a Koran” – Osama SaadiOsama Saadi, Israeli Arab lawyer and politician
The so-called “price tag” attacks involving frequent vandalism and other hate crimes carried out by the fanatics in retaliation for criticism of the settler communities.
Last November we reported on how Israeli settlers and military stormed the Monastery of the Holy Trinity, a Russian Orthodox Church and monastery in Hebron, chanting slogans and singing before holding their own prayers inside the church. The settlers entered the church under the protection of the Israeli military, exposing the level of collaboration between the far-right extremist settlers and the Israeli state.
Several years ago the same mosque in Sharafat was attacked by colonialists. Despite being another clear case of arson, there were no prosecutions for the attack.
Speaking to Israel’s Ynet News, Adel Salah, a resident of the nearby Sharafat neighbourhood, said that settlers have carried out other attacks in the area in recent years, including vandalism to cars and property belonging to Palestinian residents. In one incident from just last December, 160 cars belonging to Palestinians were set on fire and daubed with anti-Arab racist graffiti.
The Palestinian Ministry of Waqf and Religious Affairs denounced the attack, saying that the arson was a “heinous crime which is evidence of the brutality of the Israeli racist incitement machine towards Islamic and Christian sanctities in Palestine.”
Israeli police refused to say whether they considered the attack in Sharafat as a hate crime.