Jewish settlers set fire to the entrance of a mosque near the occupied West Bank city of Nablus early Friday and spray-painted anti-Arab and anti-Muslim slogans, according to a Palestinian activist.
“A group of settlers attacked the town of Aqraba [south of Nablus] and set fire to the entrance of the Al-Sheikh Saada Mosque,” activist Yousef Diriya told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency.
“They spray-painted slogans in Hebrew hostile to Arabs and Muslims – including ‘Death to the Arabs’ – on the walls of the mosque,” he said.
“Only the vigilance of local residents prevented the mosque from being completely burned to the ground,” Diriya added.
Palestinian political figures have condemned the attack.
President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated calls for “international protection” for the Palestinians and their holy sites, urging relevant international institutions “to ensure that terrorists are punished” in reference to the settlers who allegedly carried out the attack.
“This is not the first time for settlers to burn mosques and churches in the occupied Palestinian territories,” Abbas said.
“This [incident] confirms that these heinous crimes by the terrorist settlers … are being carried out under the eyes of the Israeli army,” he asserted.
The Ramallah-based Palestinian government likewise condemned the attack, accusing Israel of “sponsoring settler terrorism”.
“The government of [Israeli Prime Minister] Benjamin Netanyahu is one of Israel’s most pro-settlement governments ever,” Palestinian government spokesman Yusuf al-Mahmoud said in a statement.
Roughly 40,000 Jewish settlers live in and around Nablus in 39 different settlements and outposts, from which they stage occasional attacks on local Palestinians and their property.