Palestinian house torched in suspected hate crime
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Palestinian house torched in suspected hate crime

Settlers accused of setting fire to home near Ramallah, scrawling anti-Arab epithets on wall; no injuries reported in blaze

A house is torched in Khirbet abu Falah on November 23, 2104. (photo credit: Courtesy/Rabbis for Human Rights)
A house is torched in Khirbet abu Falah on November 23, 2104. (photo credit: Courtesy/Rabbis for Human Rights)

Palestinian sources reported Sunday that Jewish settlers torched a house near the West Bank city of Ramallah, and spray-painted anti-Palestinian slogans at the scene.

There were no injuries reported in the suspected hate crime.

The Palestinian residents of the Khirbet Abu Falah village said that early Sunday, settlers knocked on the door of the house, and after receiving no answer, spread lighter fluid over the residence and set it alight.

But the mayor of the village said firebombs hurled at the structure sparked the blaze.

“At 4:00am (0200 GMT), settlers came and threw molotov cocktails at a house which partly burned down,” said Masud Abu Mura, mayor of Khirbet Abu Falah, northeast of Ramallah.

He said four women were inside the house at the time, but they all escaped unharmed.

Hebrew graffiti was found at the scene bearing the words “Death to the Arabs,” and “Avenge the blood of the fallen servants.”

Israeli officials from the government administrator in the West Bank opened a probe into the possibility the incident was a “price tag” hate crime attack, according to the Walla news site.

"Death to Arabs" spray painted on a house in Khirbet abu Falah on November 23, 2104. (photo credit: Courtesy)
“Death to Arabs” spray painted on a house in Khirbet abu Falah on November 23, 2104. (photo credit: Courtesy)

On November 12, a West Bank mosque in the neighboring Palestinian town of al-Mughayir was set on fire, in what local residents said was a “price tag” attack by extremists, but what police said did not look like a hate crime.

The incident did not coincide with previous “price tag” attack patterns, leading police to believe the mosque was not burned for ideological reasons, Channel 10 reported.

The police source also added that no racist graffiti was found at the scene, conflicting earlier Palestinian news reports.

Israeli Police were unable to entirely rule out the option that this was a nationalist attack, as Palestinian authorities refused their entry to the village and did not allow them to conduct a wide-scale investigation.

Palestinians inspect the mosque that was allegedly set on fire by Israeli settlers in al-Mughayir, in the West Bank on November 12, 2014. (photo credit: STR/Flash90)
Palestinians inspect the mosque that was allegedly set on fire by Israeli settlers in al-Mughayir, in the West Bank on November 12, 2014. (photo credit: STR/Flash90)

The mayor of the village said he had no doubt that Jewish settlers were responsible, citing a previous settler attack against another mosque in the village two years ago and frequent settler attacks against vehicles and olive groves there.

“Only Jewish settlers would do this,” he said.

The reports, which accused settlers of committing the arson, indicated that villagers noticed fire and smoke coming from the mosque at around 3:30 a.m, according to Israel Radio.

The mayor said efforts of residents and Palestinian fire services to quell the blaze succeeded only in saving the building’s second floor.

Head of the Shomron Regional Council Gershon Mesika condemned the blaze, saying whoever set the fire was a “pyromaniac,” according to Ynet. He qualified, however, that thus far “no Jew has ever been caught setting fire to a mosque.”

AFP contributed to this report.

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