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State Department condemns West Bank mosque torching

JTA

June 9, 2011 | 10:29 am

The United States condemned the torching of a West Bank mosque.

“This attack is the latest of several such acts of violence against West Bank mosques. These incidents have served to undermine efforts to promote a comprehensive peace in the region. We call on the Israeli government to investigate this attack and bring the perpetrators to justice, and for calm from all parties,” said Mark Toner, deputy spokesperson for the U.S. State Department.

Burning tires were rolled into the mosque in the Maghayer village near Ramallah on Tuesday, setting rugs in the building on fire, according to reports. The building sustained fire damage; no deaths or injuries were reported. Village officials blamed Jewish settlers for the attack, though no suspects have been named.

The mosque’s walls also were sprayed with graffiti that reportedly read “Alei Ayin”—the name of a nearby settlement outpost that was demolished last week by Israeli police. Other slogans spray-painted on the wall reportedly read “Price Tag” and “This is only the beginning.”

“Price tag” refers to the strategy extremist settlers have adopted to exact a price in attacks on Palestinians in retribution for settlement freezes or their attacks on Jews.

A joint Israeli police-military investigation has been launched into the incident.

The American Jewish Committee also condemned the attack.

“No house of worship, whatever the faith, should be so targeted and willfully damaged,” said AJC Executive Director David Harris. “We categorically condemn this attack on a mosque and hope the perpetrators will soon be found and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. There can be no excuse, no explanation, and no justification for such a brazen assault and desecration.”

Several West Bank mosques have been torched in the last year; most of the incidents were blamed on Jewish settlers.

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