Settlers Set Fire to West Bank Mosque After Israel Demolishes Illegal Structures in Migron

Palestinian Authority condemns attack, says incident is not the first of its kind to be carried out by settlers against mosques, hours after Israel Police destroys three homes in settlement outpost of Migron.

A mosque in the West Bank village of Qusra, south of Nablus, was set on fire Monday morning, hours after Israeli police officers destroyed three illegal structures in the settlement outpost of Migron.

According to Palestinian sources, a group of settlers arrived at the village mosque at approximately 3 A.M., threw burning tires toward it, and broke several of its windows. The event is the latest in a series of clashes between settlers and Palestinians in the region.

David Bachar

The Palestinian Authority condemned the attack, stating that it is not the first of its kind to be carried out by settlers against mosques in the West Bank, and called on the Middle East Quartet to get involved.

According to the Palestinian news agency Maan, settlers also threw rocks at Palestinian vehicles near the settlement of Yitzhar, resulting in several instances of smashed windows.

The settler attack comes on the heels of response of the demolition of three buildings early Monday morning in the West Bank settlement outpost Migron, 14 kilometers north of Jerusalem.

Around 200 settlers assembled and tried to make their way to the structures, hoping to stop the bulldozers in their tracks. Six youths were arrested.

The incident began an hour past midnight, when the police officers began emptying the buildings of their contents. While this was taking place, Regavim, a settlers' advocacy group, petitioned the Supreme Court, asking for a court injunction stopping the demolition. Justice Neil Hendel, who heard the petition, granted the advocacy group a 12-hour delay, halting the demolition.

The respite turned out to be short-lived, as a few hours later, the Supreme Court issued another order which sanctioned the demolition, and rendering the previous injunction void.

The three buildings, built this year, were ordered to be destroyed by the Supreme Court, following a petition issued by Yesh Din, an Israeli human rights group. The state initially said it would comply with the court ruling by mid-July, and later postponed the demolition to an unspecified date during September.

Danny Dayan, the chairman of the Yesha Council of West Bank settlements, who arrived at the scene, said the decision to demolish the houses was made by the government not the court, thus the responsibility for this futile action lay with the government. It is still not too late for the Prime Minister to reverse the decision.