(Photos: Burned carpet in mosque above, burned Koran below, 4 Oct 2010/Ammar Awad)
Jewish settlers opposed to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians were accused of setting fire to a mosque in the West Bank on Monday, burning the Koran and scrawling threats in Hebrew on its walls. “Mosques, we burn,” said a warning scribbled at the door of the smoke-smudged mosque of Beit Fajjar south of Bethlehem on the day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed for cool heads to avert the collapse of U.S.-brokered peace talks.
The green-carpeted floor of the mosque was burned to a black crust in a dozen places where it was doused with kerosene and set alight at around three in the morning. A dozen copies of the Koran were scorched by the fire. Palestinians said settlers were behind the attack. “The settlers’ message is: terrorize the Palestinian people,” said Mohammad Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who came to inspect the damage and talk to the locals.
A Star of David symbol and the words “Price Tag” were found scrawled over the mosque’s doorway. Militant settlers coined the slogan to warn of the cost of any threat to their presence. It was the fourth such attack since December and “a very serious incident which we view with utmost gravity,” said Israeli military spokeswoman Lieut. Colonel Avital Liebowitz.