Arsonists set fire to a deserted mosque in central Jerusalem during the night between Tuesday and Wednesday. There was no structural damage reported and the damage mainly consisted of the blackening of walls and graffiti reading Price Tag, and anti-Islamic phrases.
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The Nebi Akasha mosque, apparently built under the Ayyubid dynasty in the 12th century with additions made under the Mamluk dynasty in the 13th century. It is believed that the mosque was founded on the burial site of combatants in Saladins army, though an ancient tradition designates the site as the place where Akasha, a friend of the Prophet Muhammad, was buried.
The mosque is uniquely located in central Jerusalem in the midst of a Ultra-Orthodox neighborhood. It was abandoned in the Israeli War of Independence. Its was recently renovated and turned into a municipal storage facility.
Graffiti spray painted on the historical site included inscriptions such as "Muhammad is Dead," "Muhammad is a Pig," and "Price Tag."
The Jerusalem municipality closed off the entrance to the mosque, and the police and Shin Bet began an investigation.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat denounced the act adding that adding zero tolerance should be shown to violence of any kind, and that coexistence in the city must be kept at all costs.
On Thursday, last week, residents of the Palestinian village of Burkina discovered that two vehicles were torched overnight, and that there had been attempt to burn the local mosque as well, succeeding only in burning its entrance. In this incident graffiti of a similar nature was also spray-painted on the mosque walls.
After an arson attack on a mosque at Tuba-Zangaria in northern Israel in early October, the police assigned a team of the International and Serious Crimes Unit (ISCU) to investigate arson cases.Some so-called hilltop youth said that at first they feared the ISCU but after many suspects were arrested only to be subsequently released, their fear subsided.
In the arson of the Tuba-Zangaria mosque, the entire interior of the went up in flames, causing heavy damage, and holy books inside the mosque were burned. Graffiti with the words price tag was also found on its walls.
In an earlier incident, a mosque in the West Bank village of Qusra, south of Nablus, was set on fire in June, hours after Israeli police officers destroyed three illegal structures in the settlement outpost of Migron.