|Vandals daubed the outside walls of the former mosque with inflammatory graffiti [AFP]|
Vandals have set fire to a disused mosque in Jerusalem, daubing inflammatory graffiti in Hebrew on the walls in an apparent anti-Palestinian “price tag” attack.
Israeli police said on Wednesday they were investigating the overnight incident which took place near the busy shopping district around Jaffa Street.
Slogans insulting the Prophet Mohammad and other graffiti reading “A good Arab is a dead Arab” and “price tag” were spray-painted on the exterior walls of the building, the AFP news agency reported.
The “Price tag” slogan is generally associated with attacks on Palestinian property, often mosques, by Jewish settlers in the illegally occupied West Bank. Attacks on mosques beyond the West Bank are less common.
Some of the building’s exterior walls were burnt and there was a strong smell of petrol, although it appeared the fire had not caught, AFP reported.
Nir Barkat, Jerusalem’s mayor, condemned the attack and called for calm.
“We must show zero tolerance toward violence in any shape or form and continue to maintain co-existence in the city,” news website Ynet quoted him as saying.
The incident came just 24 hours after extremist settlers attacked an Israeli military base in the northern West Bank and sabotaged vehicles there, prompting angry denounciations from Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister and other top officials.
The Israeli army on Wednesday said that Palestinian cars were torched overnight in the northern West Bank, near the city of Nablus and the town of Qalqilya.
Hebrew-language graffiti found at both scenes bore the hallmark of a “price tag” attack, a spokesman said, although he declined to elaborate.
While Israeli officials have condemned the attacks, critics say the government has not done enough to prevent attacks on mosques and other sites.
Shaul Mofaz, a former defense minister and military chief who sees himself as a possible rival to Netanyahu in the next elections, told Army Radio on Wednesday that the government was not doing enough to stop what he called “groups of Jewish guerrillas.”
“These hooligans are terrorists for all intents and purposes,” he told Army Radio, referring to the attack on the military base. “The Israeli government has to exact a price tag, and it has to be painful, expensive and unequivocal.”