Jewish settlers opposed to a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians were accused of setting fire to a mosque in the West Bank, burning the Koran and scrawling threats in Hebrew on its walls.
‘Mosques we burn’,said a warning scribbled at the door of the smoke-damaged mosque of Beit Fajjar which is south of Bethlehem. This happened on a day when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed for cool heads to avert the collaose of US peace talks.
The green carpeted floor of the mosque was burnt to a black crust in a dozen places where it was doused with kerosene and set alight early in the morning.
A dozen copies of the Koran were scorched by the fire.
Palestinians said some Jewish settlers were behind the attack.
‘the settlers message is, ‘Terrorise the Palestinian people’. said Mohammed Hussein, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who came to inspect the damage and talk to the locals.
Violence could complicate US led efforts to prevent the collapse of Middle East peace talks, launched just a month ago.
They were plunged into crisis last week when a 10 month moratorium on building houses in West Bank Jewish settlements expired.