x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Palestinian PM says Israel hold 'full responsibility' for mosque arson

West Bank mosque spray-painted with Hebrew graffiti, and damaged by fire and smoke in an attack blamed on Israeli settlers responding to the demolition of three homes in the outpost of Migron.

Palestinians and Palestinian security forces inspect the damage inside a mosque torched and vandalised by arsonists in the West Bank village of Qusra, near Nablus yesterday. Nasser Ishtayeh / AP Photo
Palestinians and Palestinian security forces inspect the damage inside a mosque torched and vandalised by arsonists in the West Bank village of Qusra, near Nablus yesterday. Nasser Ishtayeh / AP Photo

QUSRA, Palestinian Territories // The Israeli government bore "full responsibility" for an arson attack on a mosque in the West Bank, the Palestinian Authority prime minister said yesterday, pointing to what he alleged was a lack of police action in the past, .

"The Israeli government bears full responsibility for these attacks against our people, property and sacred places," Salam Fayyad said in a statement issued several hours after burning tyres were rolled into the ground floor of a mosque in Qusra village, some 15 kilometres south-east of Nablus.

The building, which was also spray-painted with Hebrew graffiti, sustained damage from fire and smoke in an attack blamed on Israeli settlers responding to the demolition of three homes in the outpost of Migron overnight.

Mr Fayyad said he held Israel's government responsible "because it has failed in the past to hold the perpetrators of such attacks accountable".

Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for the Palestinian Authority president Mahmud Abbas, said the attack was "proof of Israel's rejection of peace" and called on the international community to pressure Israel over the attack and similar incidents.

In early June, an arson attack was carried out on a mosque in a nearby village, just days after police had demolished another West Bank outpost called Alei Ayin, sparking fierce clashes with settlers.

Overnight, hundreds of police and soldiers entered Migron settlement and dismantled three structures in line with a defence ministry order backed by the Israeli Supreme Court, police said.

"Six settlers who tried to prevent the demolition were arrested after attacking the forces," the police spokeswoman, Luba Samri, said.

The Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, had ordered the three structures be taken down in June. In early August, the Supreme Court issued an identical order, although it gave the authorities until March 2012 to implement the decision.

Hardline settlers have adopted what they call a "price tag" policy under which they attack Palestinians and their property in response to Israeli government measures against settlements.

Israel considers settlement outposts built in the West Bank without government approval to be illegal, and often sends security personnel to demolish them. They usually consist of little more than a few trailers.

The international community considers all settlements built in the occupied West Bank, including annexed Arab East Jerusalem, to be illegal.