Israeli Firefighters: West Bank Mosque Fire Likely Arson

The Palestinian Authority already implicated Jewish settlers in Tuesday's fire, which destroyed holy books, prayer rugs.

Israeli firefighters said Thursday that the fire which occurred in a West Bank mosque earlier this week appears to have been deliberately set.

The Palestinian Authority already implicated Jewish settlers in the fire on Tuesday, which destroyed holy books and prayer rugs in the Nablus-area village of Luban al-Sharqiya. The blaze came at a sensitive time as the Israelis and Palestinians were due to begin new U.S.-brokered indirect peace talks.

West Bank mosque arson

Upon first seeing the mosque in flames, residents, along with Israeli police, believed it had been caused by an electrical short-circuit.

But fire department spokesman, Jeky Binyamini, said on Thursday that this wasn't the case, and cited arson as a likely cause of the fire.

Israeli defense officials are increasingly concerned over the series of mosque burnings in the past six months. In December a mosque in the West Bank village of Yasuf was set on fire. The Shin Bet security service briefly detained several suspects, and it is not clear whether they will be charged.

In April, stars of David were spray-painted on a mosque in the village of Hawara. No suspects were detained in the incident.