US, PA, Israeli leaders condemn mosque attack (JERUSALEM POST) By KHALED ABU TOAMEH, YAAKOV LAPPIN, Y. KATZ 06/20/12)
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The United States, Israel’s top leaders, and the Palestinian
Authority harshly condemned a pre-dawn predawn “price tag” attack
Tuesday by Jewish right wing extremists against a West Bank
“Hateful, dangerous, and provocative actions such as these are never
justified,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told
reporters in Washington D.C. later that afternoon.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said, “"This was the work of
intolerant, irresponsible lawbreakers. We will act quickly in order
to bring them to justice."
He spoke hours after vandals entered the Palestinian village of
Jab’a, near Ramallah to set fire to a mosque. They also spray painted
the words “Ulpana-war” in black Hebrew letters on the mosque´s wall,
referring to the West Bank outpost, which is slated for demolition by
the end of the month. Police said it was the work of far right
"We suspect this a ´price tag´ incident," a police spokesman said,
referring to a term coined by far-right elements to describe hate
crimes launched in response to state demolitions of outposts The
mosque was lightly damaged in the attack.
The mayor of Jaba´, Abdel Karim Sharaf, said he had no doubt that
extremist settlers were behind the attack.
Villagers noticed that the mosque was on fire around 2 a.m., he said.
Hundreds of residents rushed to save the mosque and extinguish the
fire, he added. He said that IDF soldiers also rushed to the village
upon being notified of the assault.
The mayor warned that such attacks could trigger violence in the area.
Ahmed Nasser, a resident of Jaba´, said he woke up to the screams of
villagers who saw the mosque on fire. "No one saw the perpetrators,"
he said. "But we have no doubt that the attack was carried out by
Jewish settlers. Some people found matches with Hebrew writing inside
Another resident, Hussein Abdel Latif,, said that the graffiti in
Hebrew that was sprayed on the walls of the mosque proves that
settlers were behind the attack. The settlers, he charged, "feel free
to carry out such attacks because they enjoy the support of the
Israeli government and army."
Police commissioner Ch.-Insp. Yochanan Danino said recent
nationalistic crimes 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.
Police have repeatedly expressed their fears that a hate crime could
touch off a wave of unrest in the West Bank.
Judea and Samaria police attended the scene and gathered forensic
Danino passed down orders to police to do all that was possible to
arrest the perpetrators, and to invest high levels of resources "to
bring the criminals to justice and place them behind bars."
So far, just two people have been charged for far-right hate crimes.
Last year, police set up a national taskforce operating under the
Lahav 433 unit to oversee efforts to arrest suspects. The unit´s main
goal was to ensure that arrests were made and that charges and
prosecutions would follow.
Sources in the IDF Central Command voiced concern that additional
attacks would take place and that the overall situation would
escalate ahead of the planned demolition of the Ulpana outpost by
The sources said that the IDF was prepared for such an increase and
was bolstering its forces in the areas where it predicted that
settlers and Palestinians would clash in the coming weeks. One
particular hotspot has been near the settlement of Yitzhar, which has
seen 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.
In spite of these efforts, PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh held the
Israeli government fully responsible for "such crimes," arguing that
it was not serious in maintaining security.
Abu Rudaineh said that this was the sixth of its kind against Islamic
religious sites in the West Bank since the beginning of the year.
Israeli "condemnations were not enough, the spokesman said. The
Israeli prime minister must stop these assaults on worshipping places
and residents and hold the perpetrators accountable."
The PA Minister for Wakf [Islamic trust] Affairs, Mahmoud Habbash,
also blamed the Israeli government for the mosque attack because of
its support for the settlers.
He said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has instructed his ministry
to immediately renovate the mosque so that it would be ready to
receive worshippers this coming Friday.
"Israel´s continued assaults against our mosques is an aggression on
Islam and all Muslims," Habbash said during a visit to the mosque.
Sheikh Ekerma Sabri, chairman of the Supreme Islamic Council in
Jerusalem, denounced the mosque attack as an act of cowardice and
terror. He added that the incident was in the context of
a "comprehensive war that is being waged against our holy sites and
homes and every inch of our land."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak, however, was among a number of top
Israeli leaders who spoke out strongly against 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
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.
"Just yesterday I said at a Hasbara conference that price tag attacks
are illegal, immoral, and gravely undermine the image of Israel and
the settlement enterprise under the gaze of the international
community," Ayalon wrote on his Facebook page. "And here, this
morning, we hear about another price tag attack."
"We must not allow such acts of terrorism to continue," he said.
Yesha council chair Danny Dayan also condemned the attack, calling it
immoral and saying that it damages the settlement enterprise.
Right wing activist Baruch Marzel of Hebron, however, was the result
of deep frustration by teenagers against the government’s racist
policy toward settlers. He warned that “price tag” incidents would
increase in proportion to this level of frustration.
Tovah Lazaroff and Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this report.
(© 1995-2011, The Jerusalem Post 06/20/12)
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