Mosque Arson, 'Revenge' Graffiti in Palestinian Villages in Days After Be'er Sheva Murders

Four suspected attacks against Palestinians were reported following the murder in Israel's south, with graffiti declaring 'Be'er Sheva war'

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Graffiti reading 'Jews won’t be silent when our brothers are murdered' in the Palestinian village of Zeita Jama’in.
Graffiti reading 'Jews won’t be silent when our brothers are murdered' in the Palestinian village of Zeita Jama’in.Credit: Zeita Jama’in local council

Five violent attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank were reported this week, four of them taking place after the stabbing attack by a Palestinian on Tuesday in Be’er Sheva, a security official told Haaretz.

Israeli police announced Thursday that they were investigating the attempted arson of a mosque on Wednesday night in the village of Zeita Jama’in near Nablus. The entrance to the mosque was damaged and malicious graffiti was sprayed on the walls of homes during the arson attempt. Additional violent incidents were reported in the village of Muhmas near Ramallah, at Turmus Ayya near the settlements of Ariel and Beit El.

The head of the Zeita Jama’in local council, Zeid Ramadan, told Haaretz that the arson occurred at 3 A.M., when unknown persons entered the village and sprayed graffiti on the walls including the words “Jews won’t be silent when our brothers are murdered.” Because the door to the mosque is made of metal and was well sealed, the fire did not reach the mosque interior. “All the signs show that the arson was racially motivated and a hate crime,” Ramadan said. He added that a complaint had been filed with the police and detectives had come to the scene. About a year and a half ago, Ramadan added, a similar incident took place at some of the homes in the village.

In another incident, recorded by security cameras, a group of masked men entered the village of Muhmas near Ramallah on the night between Tuesday and Wednesday, and damaged cars and houses with batons and stones. According to a security source, the windows of three homes were broken and windows of 20 cars were broken or their tires were punctured before Shin Bet agents and police personnel arrived at the scene.

Graffiti reading 'Revenge' in Turmus Ayya, on Wednesday.

The security official said 200 young olive trees were uprooted in the village of Turmus Ayya near the Ariel settlement, and signs in the area were painted with the words “revenge” and “Be’er Sheva war.” According to testimony given to security officials, four men in a jeep destroyed the trees. A representative of the District Coordination and Liaison administration came to the scene and findings from the scene were collected by the police. The official said that settlers had also thrown stones at cars in the area of Beit El.

According to the security official, another incident occurred this week before the attack in Be’er Sheva. On the night between Monday and Tuesday settlers spray-painted cars with the words “Destroy? Jews won’t be silent,” and punctured the tires of vehicles in the town of El Bireh near Ramallah. Representatives of the army, the Shin Bet District Coordination and Liaison administration came to the scene.

“The Palestinian public wants to mark Ramadan quietly and with their extended family for the first time in three years. The arena in Judea and Samaria is very sensitive at the moment, and the increase in nationalistically motivated crime in recent weeks may affect and upset security stability in the area,” the security official said. “These actions are by a handful of offenders who endanger security stability,” he added.

The human rights group Yesh Din, which documents violence against Palestinians, said that its activists had filmed stone throwing over the past few days in the area of the outpost of Givat Assaf and the settlement of Yitzhar. “This violence is taking place under the noses of Israeli law enforcement, which allows violence and retaliation to occur as a matter of course, and also encourage it.”

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