Suspected Jewish terrorists torched a mosque in central West Bank on Tuesday 7 June, according to police sources and eyewitnesses.
Initial investigation showed Jewish settlers from the nearby settlement of Bait Ayen committed the arson by rolling burning tires into a medium-size mosque
. Israeli sources said the sacrilegious act was meant to protest the Israeli army's demolition of a settler shack in the area last week.
The Israeli government condemned the terrorist act, calling it criminal
The settlers call such attacks on Palestinians and their property as "a price tag" policy, scrawling the phrase on buildings they have targeted.
This is the fifth mosque in the West Bank to be torched by settlers in the past two years. No perpetrators have ever been arrested.
It is widely believed that the Israeli security authorities, under government instruction, do not act to apprehend and punish perpetrators. One settler leader, Itamar Ben Gvir, justified the arson, saying settler anger had consequences.
Palestinian officials accused the settlers and their backers in the Israeli government and army of trying to carry out a protracted kristallnacht against Palestinians.
Kristallnacht, or “night of broken glass,” was an infamous Nazi German incident in November 1938 when Hitler Youth vandalized Jewish properties and synagogues, inflicting extensive damage.
"Unfortunately, despicable acts like this raise no eyebrows among Jews in Israel. And even when they do, the reactions are usually insincere and hypocritical, given the overwhelming support settlers enjoy in Israel."
Mahmoud Al-Habbash, the Palestinian Authority's minister of Wakf (religious endowments) and Islamic Affairs, accused the settlers of "defiling the name of God."
"These people claim to be religious people but look what they are doing. He called on honest people all over the world to expose and isolate these genocidal and fanatical extremists who are hell bent on igniting the flames of religious wars in the region."
"A few weeks ago, they sought to burn a church in Jerusalem, and now they have burned a mosque. This shows that these people who carry a virulent venomous ideology must be evicted."
Another condemnation came from Sheikh Muhammed Hussein, a Friday imam at the Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem who also serves as the PA Mufti. He pointed out that settler attacks on mosques and churches were becoming a policy.
He accused the Israeli government and security authorities of dealing mildly with the issue of Jewish terrorism.
"I can say that the extremely lenient reaction by the Israeli government to Jewish terror only further encourages this terror."
Many Jewish settlers in the West Bank are affiliated with an extremist Jewish messianic group called Gush Emunim (block of faithful).The group's ideology advocates expulsion, enslavement or extermination for non-Jews living in Palestine-Israel.
These principles, which used to have a marginal presence in Israel, have gained some prevalence among Israeli Jews, prompting some observers and intellectuals to compare the situation in Israel with Nazi Germany in the mid-1930s.
A few months ago, one disgruntled Israeli cabinet minister said of his administration, "We have already become a fascist state.”