JAB’A (JWN and agencies)—Security authorities are searching for arsonists who set fire to the mosque in Jab’a village near Ramallah on Monday night.
The assailants also sprayed graffiti on the outside walls of the mosque reading ”Ulpana war,” indicating that this was another so-called “price tag” attack. Numerous such attacks have been carried out against Arab by right-wing extremists seeking to intimidate the authorities from acting against the settlement movement.
IDF sources have expressed concern that additional attacks would escalate ahead of the planned demolition of the Ulpana outpost of Beit El by court order on July 1. The IDF is bolstering its units in areas where it expects settlers and Palestinians to clash in the coming weeks.
One settlement known for its extremism, Yitzhar, has been the focus of several clashes between the groups in recent weeks. The police recently confiscated a number of weapons from members of the settlement’s rapid response security teams.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu condemned the Jab’a mosque desecration, calling the assailants “intolerant and irresponsible lawbreakers” and said they would be brought to justice.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also condemned the attack, calling it a “criminal act” and promising a swift response by the IDF.
“This is a grave and criminal act meant to destroy the social fabric in the region and distract the IDF from its missions, which include protecting Israeli citizens in the region,” Barak said. “I have instructed the IDF and security forces to act with all available means in order to capture the perpetrators and to bring them to justice.”
Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon called the graffiti an act of “terror,” adding that such activities harm not only Israel but also the settlement enterprise.
Police Inspector-General Yochanan Danino commented on recent hate crimes by far-right extremists, saying the offenses were severe and had to be stopped. “Attacking religious symbols and holy sites is a grave and explosive phenomenon, which has consequences for the wider public,” he said.
So far, only two people have been charged for far-right hate crimes. Last year the Israel Police set up a national task force to oversee efforts to arrest suspects.
Monday night’s price-tag attack is the third since the government decided to comply with the High Court ruling and evacuate the Ulpana outpost. Last week vandals damaged seven cars belonging to Arab residents of the Shuafat refugee camp near Jerusalem. On June 8, vandals attacked the Jewish-Arab coexistence village of Neveh Shalom near Latrun, slashing the tires of 14 cars and spray-painting anti-Arab graffiti on the elementary school, public buildings, and three cars.