The name of the Migron settlement was found written on the mosque's wall after the attack [AFP]

Israeli settlers have set fire to a mosque in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials say. 

The attack on Monday came hours after Israeli authorities, following a court order, demolished three buildings in the illegal settlement outpost of Migron, the Reuters news agency reported.

A member of the village council in Qusra, near the city of Nablus, said settlers threw burning tyres into the mosque, damaging the entire first floor.

The act appeared to be carried out in reprisal for the demolitions, West Bank residents said, as the name of Migron was found written in Hebrew on the mosque walls after the attack.

Migron is one of about 100 small outposts that settlers built without government approval on land that Israel
has occupied since the 1967 war and which Palestinians want for a future state.

Police said they were investigating the attack.

Increase in attacks

Some settlers have threatened Palestinians with reprisals in response to Israeli government actions against settlements.

Meanwhile, six people who clashed with police were arrested in Migron, a police spokesman said. Israeli media later said that five of the six had been released.

Settler-related incidents resulting in Palestinian injuries and damage to property have increased by more than 50 per cent this year, according to the UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which documents violence in the Palestinian territories.

"This is not the first attack. There are tens of mosques and churches that have been attacked before by
packs of settlers," Ghassan Doughlas, the head of Settlements File in the Nablus district, said.

"This attack affirms that this government [the Israeli government] is a settler government of the
first degree.

"All the previous governments have covered up for attacks by the settlers. Their numbers have increased; this contributes to the cycle of violence and these slogans that were written on the walls [of the mosque] assure the bitterness of the packs of settlers, and what the area will be exposed to in the future."

Source: Agencies