Israeli Extremists Torch Church, Mosque

CAIRO – Extremist Jewish nationalists have set a Greek Orthodox seminary building on fire in Al-Quds (occupied Jerusalem) and vandalized an elementary school in Nablus on Thursday, one day after a similar group torched a mosque in Bethlehem.

“At approximately 4:30 a.m. two people who were hiding their faces came from the east side of the structure near the cemetery and the Catholic church. From there they threw flammable liquid at the seminary’s bathroom, » Greek Orthodox Archbishop Aristarchos told Army Radio, Jerusalem Post reported.

“It is a seminary and people live there. Luckily a great deal more damage was not caused.

“This is a saddening incident, and luckily nobody was hurt. Once, religious Jewish people with sidelocks came and issued threats. Perhaps the police will know if this is connected to them, » he added.

The vandals torched an annex of the seminary just outside the walls of Al-Quds Old City and scrawled « graffiti insulting Jesus », police spokeswoman Luba Samri told AFP, describing it as a « nationalist » attack.

Police said the assailants set light to the toilet and shower block at the seminary, causing damage but no injuries.

The structure, which is used as for religious studies, is located near the Old City’s Jaffa Gate.

A similar attack targeted a mosque in a West Bank village near Bethlehem which was torched early on Wednesday, Palestinian media reported.

The report said that settlers that entered Kafr Jab’a also sprayed hate graffiti on the building, including « we want the redemption of Zion, » and « revenge. »

The mosque arson attack coincided with the anniversary of the massacre of 29 Muslim worshipers by Baruch Goldstein at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.

The attacks are believed to be « price tag » attacks, a euphemism for nationalistically motivated hate crimes by Jewish extremists which generally target Arabs.

The attacks were vehemently rejected by Palestinian officials as an act of terrorism.

Both Wednesday and Thursday’s attacks were the works of « Israeli terrorists … protected by a government that claims exclusivity over this land, » senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said in a statement cited by Haaretz on Thursday, February 26.

Arab member of Knesset Ahmed Tibi echoed Erekat’s comments, calling the price tag attacks « terrorism in all respects » and decrying how « criminals still roam freely without any deterrence or punishment. »

« If you can kill a Palestinian or cut down an olive tree without penalty, » Tibi added, « then you can burn mosques and churches without fear. »

Under a so-called « price tag » or « mutual concern » doctrine, settlers respond « whenever, wherever and however » they wish to any government attempt to remove illegally built outposts.

The term is frequently used to describe acts of vandalism by radical Israeli settlers exacting a « price » against Palestinian targets or Israeli security forces in response to actions by the government.

The policy also encourages settlers to vent their anger at innocent Palestinians living in the vicinity of such outposts.

The attack is the latest in assaults by Jewish settlers on Muslim worship places.

In October 2011, Israeli settlers torched a mosque in northern Israel, sparking furious condemnations from Palestinians and Israeli politicians

In 2010, a similar attack took place in Ibtin, another Arab Israeli village in Galilee.

Earlier, a group of settlers entered the village of Bayt Fajar before dawn and burned down the local mosque.

In 2009, settlers torched and graffitied the Al-Kabir Mosque in the northern West Bank village of Yasuf, writing “We will have our revenge” and “We will burn you all,” on the carpets of the building.

A total of 329 incidents of settler-related violence targeting Palestinians in the West Bank were reported in 2014, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.




Fatima Achouri

Sociologue spécialiste de l’islam contemporain.

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