Ammar Awad /Reuters

Palestinian mosque torched in apparent 'price tag' attack

Holy sanctuary near Bethlehem attacked one day after Israeli soldiers shot and killed a youth in a military raid

Israeli settlers vandalized and set fire to a mosque in a village near Bethlehem on Wednesday, officials said, raising tensions in the occupied West Bank one day after Israeli soldiers shot dead a 19-year-old college student in a military raid on a refugee camp.

No one was hurt in the overnight attack in Al-Jaba'ah, where the windows of a mosque were broken and a burning object was thrown inside, said Mayor No'man Hamdan.

"God's mercy and people's alertness when the fire started prevented it from consuming the entire mosque," he said.

Hamdan said Hebrew graffiti was scrawled on the walls, including "Revenge for the Land of Zion" and "Price Tag," a phrase used by Israeli nationalists linked to hundreds of attacks on Palestinian targets since 2008. Some attacks have also targeted Israeli military posts.

Hebrew graffiti is seen on the wall of a mosque that was set alight in an overnight attack in Al-Jaba'ah.
Ammar Awad /Reuters

The nationalists have warned that for every action taken to curb settler activity, they will exact a price from local Palestinians or even the Israeli military.

Al-Jaba'ah is close to Gush Etzion, a large area of settlements just outside Bethlehem. Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and other territories occupied by Israel since 1967 are deemed illegal under international law.

Israeli police said they were investigating Wednesday’s attack, which coincided with the 21st anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque Massacre.

On Feb. 25, 1994, American-Israeli Baruch Goldstein, a member of the nationalist group Meir Kahane, opened fire in a mosque in the city of Al-Khalil, or Hebron, killing 29 worshippers and wounding more than 100 others.

Al Jazeera and Reuters

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