Palestinian mosque set alight in West Bank
A Palestinian mosque was set alight and vandalized late Sunday night in what police suspected was a "price tag" operation by nearby settlers wishing to protest Israel's West Bank policies, Haaretz said.
Alleged attack, likely a protest against a possible Israeli compromise in the West Bank, comes amid a recent impasse in peace talks over the demand to extend the settlement freeze.
Residents rushed to the mosque when they saw the flames and began fighting with the settlers, they added.
Israeli soldiers arrived in the area and broke up the fight and forced the settlers to leave.
Carpets in the mosque and about a dozen copies of the Koran, the Muslim holy book, were burnt, witnesses said.
The Palestinian Authority strongly condemned the arson, describing it as "a serious escalation in settler violence," against the Palestinians.
The attack is thought to be the latest in so-called "price tag" operations, intended to pressure the Israel government away from making concessions regarding settlement building in the West Bank.
This latest incident came amid a fresh crisis in direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority over the Palestinian demand that Israel extend its recently expired moratorium on settlement building.
A similar incident was carried that same week, when unknown vandals sprayed a Star of David with the name Mohammed beside it on a mosque in the West Bank village of Hawara.
There are more than 100 Jewish settlements on the West Bank, which was occupied by Israel in 1967, in which more than 300,000 Jewish Israelis live. About other 200,000 live in East Jerusalem, which in terms of the international community, is also referred as to the occupied territories and the status of which must be defined in Palestinian-Israeli negotiations.