Vandals set fire to a mosque in the city of el-Bireh outside Ramallah in the West Bank overnight, according to Palestinian reports Monday morning, in an apparent hate attack by extremist Israelis.
Photos from the scene showed charred walls and a blackened row of sinks, as well as graffiti on an outer wall of the mosque reading, “Siege for Arabs, not for Jews” and “the Land of Israel for the people of Israel.”
There was no immediate comment from the Israel Defense Forces or the Israel Police.
The Palestinian Religious Affairs Ministry condemned the attack and said it held Israel responsible, the official Palestinian WAFA news outlet reported.
“This is a criminal and racist act and we hold the occupation authority fully responsible for it and for the unruly acts and growing violence of the settlers,” Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Shtayyeh said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah, according to WAFA.
The PA Foreign Ministry said in a statement that it “holds the Israeli government and its prime minister fully and directly responsible for this attack.”
Economy Minister Amir Peretz also condemned the overnight attack, saying that “the criminals and hatemongers who burned a mosque must be brought to justice.”
In a tweet, he decried the “virus of hatred, which, like the coronavirus, is a common enemy of all the world’s religions and peoples.”
Recent months have seen a surge in racist attacks against Palestinians and their property allegedly committed by far-right settlers, according to the Yesh Din rights group.
Last month, Palestinians in the northern West Bank village of Jamma’in woke up to discover their town had been targeted in an apparent hate crime, with a parked car torched and Hebrew graffiti spray-painted on the wall of a nearby home.
Days earlier, 12 cars in the nearby village of As-Sawiya were vandalized and the same Hebrew phrase, “The nation of Israel lives,” was graffitied on a nearby wall along with a Star of David.
In February, vandals slashed the tires of some 170 vehicles in the northern Arab town of Jish and left Hebrew graffiti condemning interfaith coexistence daubed on buildings.
While most far-right attacks have targeted homes, business, agricultural holdings and cars, there have also been attacks on mosques in Palestinian towns and Arab Israeli communities.
In January, attackers set fire to a mosque in the Sharafat neighborhood of southern Jerusalem.
Tag Meir, an Israeli group, which works to counter hate and racism among Israelis, said that “since 2009, 60 mosques, churches and monasteries have been desecrated in Israel and in [the West Bank].”
Despite dozens of hate crimes targeting Palestinians and their property over the past year, arrests of suspects have been exceedingly rare.