Settlers torch mosque days before Eid

Man holds up goat by horn

A farmer inspects a goat, one of 60 who Palestinians say died after Israeli settlers spread poison on a pasture, in the town of al-Auja near Jericho in the occupied West Bank. (via Twitter)

Israeli settler violence against Palestinians has increased in recent weeks.

On Tuesday, 60 heads of livestock died near the town of al-Auja near Jericho in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

Farmer Ahmad al-Zawahra said that settlers had spread poison on the pastures where his animals graze.

This comes just days before Muslims all over the world celebrate Eid al-Adha, during which livestock is slaughtered and donated to the needy.

The holiday is a primary source of income for livestock farmers.

The number of dead animals is likely to increase, a local official told WAFA, as many animals are sick.

Al-Auja is in the Jordan Valley, part of the occupied West Bank Israel intends to annex.

This is arguably encouraging settler attacks on Palestinians in the area.

Most of the village lies in Area C, the 60 percent of the West Bank that remains under full Israeli military control.

In addition to settler attacks, Palestinian communities in the Jordan Valley face regular Israeli demolitions and gradual encroachment on the land they live on, threatening to push them out completely.

Israel has been quietly ethnically cleansing the Jordan Valley of its indigenous Palestinians for years.

There are now just 53,000 Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, down from 250,000 prior to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in 1967.

Attack on mosque

Also days before Eid al-Adha, settlers reportedly torched part of a mosque in the town of al-Bireh, adjacent to Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority.

The bathroom of the mosque was burned and walls were vandalized with Hebrew graffiti.

Palestinians hurried to the mosque and tried to put out the fire so it wouldn’t spread.

Among the anti-Palestinian slogans were, “The land of Israel for the Jewish people,” and, “A blockade of the Arabs, not the Jews.”

The mayor of al-Bireh, Azzam al-Qaraan, told Israel’s Haaretz newspaper he suspected that residents of a nearby settlement were responsible.

The settlement of Psagot is close to al-Bireh.

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.

Demolition rampages by occupation forces and settler attacks in those areas show that PA control is illusory.


Israeli human rights group B’Tselem recorded 30 incidents of physical violence, vandalism and harassment by settlers in June, 16 in May and 29 in April. This represents a sharp increase since January.

“The military allows these acts to occur, and in some cases soldiers provide the settlers with back-up and even join in on the attack,” according to B’Tselem.

Settlers and soldiers enjoy near-total impunity for violence against Palestinians and their property.


Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.