Blanket Condemnation After Mosque Torched in Suspected Attack by Settlers

IDF says arson may be linked to rumors that the Civil Administration intends raze illegal structures at outpost near Kiryat Arba.

Anshel Pfeffer
Anshel Pfeffer
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Anshel Pfeffer
Anshel Pfeffer

A Palestinian mosque was set on fire and vandalized late Sunday night in what Israel's defense establishment suspects was an attack by nearby settlers intended to pressure the government over the issue of West Bank settlement construction.

A Palestinian man praying yesterday in the mosque that was allegedly torched by settlers.Credit: Daniel Bar-On\

Israel Defense Forces sources said the arson could be linked to rumors that the Civil Administration intends to tear down illegal structures in a settlement outpost near Kiryat Arba.

The arsonists scrawled "revenge" on a mosque wall in Hebrew, doused the floor and book closet with kerosene and set fire to the place. Carpets and dozens of Korans were burned and the building was damaged.

Residents of the village of Bayt Fajar near Bethlehem alleged that a group of settlers, apparently from the nearby Gush Etzion settlement bloc, entered the village before dawn yesterday and burned down the mosque before residents were able to kick them out.

Villagers said the arsonists fled in a car with Israeli license plates after the mosque was torched.

The incident surprised both the army and settlers in the area, because until now, residents of Gush Etzion have not been involved in attacks on Palestinian villages.

However, defense officials are convinced that the arsonists were Jews, and that this was the latest in a series of attacks by hard-line settlers opposed to a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and IDF officers condemned the attack, and Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered security officials to make every effort to find the arsonists.

"Whoever committed this act is a terrorist in every regard, intent on harming any chance for peace and dialogue with the Palestinians," Barak said in a statement. "This was a disgraceful act and a stain on the State of Israel and its values."

Mohammed Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem, who came to inspect the damage and talk to the locals, said, "The settlers' message is 'terrorize the Palestinian people.'"



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott