West Bank Mosque Set on Fire; Synagogue Firebombed in Northern Israel

Damage done to ancient synagogue in Galilee; Palestinians blame settlers for burnt mosque.

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A mosque near the Palestinian city of Ramallah was set on fire early on Wednesday, in what Palestinian reports say was a hate crime attack by settlers. Meanwhile, an ancient synagogue in northern Israel was attacked. No one was hurt in both incidents.

Witnesses told the Palestinian news agency Ma'an that when worshipers arrived at the mosque, in the village of Mughayer, for morning prayers, they saw the mosque burning, and were able to extinguish the fire.

The burnt mosque near Ramallah, November 12, 2014.Credit: Rabbis for Human Rights

The second floor of the mosque suffered extensive damage, the report said, and some damage was done to the second floor. The assailants also sprayed anti-Palestinian graffiti, the report said.

Mayor Faraj al-Naasan said he had no doubt that Jewish settlers were responsible, citing a previous settler attack against another mosque in the village two years ago and frequent settler attacks against vehicles and olive groves there.

"Only Jewish settlers would do this," he said.

Also early on Wednesday, a fire bomb was thrown at the ancient synagogue in Shfaram, an Arab community in northern Israel. Police said no one was hurt in the incident and that some damage was done to the building. A resident of Shfaram told Haaertz, however, that the firebomb exploded outside the synagogue, and no damage was done to the building.

The Shfaram city council condemned the incident, noting that it was just a few months ago that a group of youths from the northern Arab town decided to team up with Jewish youths and renovate the ancient synagogue, as part of an attempt to counter hate crimes.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday that Israel's policies have led the region and the world to "a detrimental religious war," and that Israel must stop the provocations. Speaking at a ceremony marking ten years since Yasser Arafat's death, Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority is determined to move forward with its decision to ask the UN Security Council this month to approve the resolution recognizing a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders.

Last month, vandals torched a mosque in the West Bank town of Arqaba, near Nablus, causing light damage to the structure.

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