Israeli settlers vandalize West Bank mosque

Israeli settlers vandalized a mosque with Hebrew-language graffiti on Monday in the occupied West Bank village of Deir Dibwan near Ramallah.

Settlers also poured flammable material on the shoe rack placed at the entrance of the mosque.

Among the anti-Palestinian slogans were, “Here they incite to murder Jews” and “The Jewish nation lives,” as well as the Star of David symbol.

This kind of vandalism is often called a “price tag” – a term Israeli settlers and extremists use to describe sometimes lethal attacks on non-Jews and their property, especially Palestinians.

Yousef Idis, the Palestinian Authority’s religious affairs minister, condemned the settler attack.

“There are no longer safe places of worship in light of Israeli forces and settlers’ attacks and crimes [against the Palestinian people],” Idis said, according to Palestinian news agency WAFA.

Israeli police have opened an investigation into the suspected hate crime, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.

But data from the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din show that just three percent of Israeli police investigations of “ideologically motivated” crimes against Palestinians by Israeli civilians result in a conviction.

Increasingly, according to Yesh Din’s research, Palestinians do not even bother to report crimes against them to the Israeli police, given the effective impunity Israeli perpetrators enjoy.

Incursions

On Tuesday, Israeli agricultural minister Uri Ariel made an incursion into the al-Aqsa mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem, accompanied by settlers.

Ariel is a prominent advocate for the destruction of the existing Muslim holy sites, including the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, and their replacement with a Jewish temple.

Settlers regularly storm the al-Aqsa compound escorted by heavily armed occupation soldiers to intimidate Palestinians and assert Israeli control over the site.

This tweet shows a settler incursion on Sunday:

Previously, Israeli lawmakers were not allowed to visit al-Aqsa mosque due to an agreement between Jordan – the custodian of holy sites in Jerusalem – and Israel. Al-Aqsa mosque is one of Islam’s holiest sites.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in July that lawmakers may visit the al-Aqsa mosque compound, which Jews call the Temple Mount and Muslims call al-Haram al-Sharif, once every three months.

Following Israel’s military occupation of East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel’s chief rabbis banned Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount for theological reasons.

But these religious rulings are defied by right-wing extremists bent on conquering the site once and for all.

Increasingly aggressive incursions align with plans to erase Jerusalem’s Muslim and Christian identity and reinvent Jerusalem’s history according to a Zionist narrative, pushing Palestinians out of the city.

The ultimate aim of the so-called Temple movement, which is funded by the Israeli government, is to build a Jewish temple where the Muslim shrines now stand.

Israeli settlers also surrounded the al-Disi mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem on Sunday and demanded its closure:

The mosque was recently renovated and is set to reopen for use after years of standing vacant.

Israeli settlers in the area are generally against the mosque’s opening due to its proximity to the Jewish Quarter, calling it a “provocation,” Israel’s Ynet reported.

A local rabbi sent a letter to the Israeli police demanding intervention.

In response, the Israeli municipality ruling occupied East Jerusalem stated that it demolished a room that had been built on the mosque’s roof.

Vandalized cars

Elsewhere, settlers have stepped up hostilities against Palestinians in recent weeks, including vandalizing cars, storming holy sites, damaging olive trees and attacking Palestinian residents.

In the occupied West Bank village of al-Mughayyir late last month, 38-year-old father of four Hamdi Talib Saadeh Naasan was fatally shot as settlers and soldiers firing guns stormed the village.

Last week, Settlers vandalized cars belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank village of Luban al-Sharqiya south of Nablus.

Israeli settlers smashed the windows of three cars in the village of Turmus Aya near Ramallah late last month.

Video of the attack shows three masked people striking the cars with what looks like steel batons and then fleeing the area.

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Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.