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West Bank mosque set ablaze in suspected settler attack

The olive harvest is historically a period when settler violence against Palestinians and their trees increase. The name of a local settlement from which two youths were arrested last week is spray painted onto the mosque’s wall.

Palestinians survey the damage inside Aqraba's mosque, which was set on fire early Tuesday morning, October 14, 2014. (Photo by Rabbis for Human Rights)

Palestinians survey the damage inside Aqraba’s mosque, which was set on fire early Tuesday morning, October 14, 2014. (Photo by Rabbis for Human Rights)

A West Bank mosque was set on fire and vandalized early Tuesday morning in what on the surface appeared to be a hate crime attack by Jewish settlers.

A local Palestinian official, Hamza Dereya, said that Israeli settlers entered the village of Aqraba before dawn, according to official Palestinian news agency WAFA.

The vandals set fire to the village’s mosque and spray painted nationalist and racist graffiti, including the name of a nearby Israeli settlement, Tapuah. The mosque’s floor, walls and holy books were damaged by the fire and smoke.

Two settlers from Tapuah were arrested in recent days on suspicion beating a Palestinian women harvesting olives in the nearby village of Yasuf. Olive trees were also vandalized in Aqraba and Burin, a village that has taken the brunt of harvest-related violence in recent years.

Read also: Settler violence: Think of it like burning down a Jewish business

Graffiti left at the scene of the mosque arson in Aqraba reads: "Price tag; Tapuah is Kahane", October 14, 2014. (Photo by Rabbis for Human Rights)

Graffiti left at the scene of the mosque arson in Aqraba reads: “Price tag; Tapuah is Kahane”, October 14, 2014. (Photo by Rabbis for Human Rights)

The olive harvest, which began earlier this month, is historically a time when settler violence against Palestinians increases.

“From the moment the olive harvest begins, we witness a series of serious incidents involving attacks on harvesters and damage to trees,” explained Noa Cohen, a researcher for Israeli human rights NGO Yesh Din. “This recurring phenomenon is a result of failure to enforce the law.”

Since 2005, according to Yesh Din data, police failed to prosecute 99.6 percent of all reported cases of damage to Palestinian olive groves and trees. Out of 246 investigations Israeli police opened in those years, only four resulted in indictments.

Read also: Settler violence: It comes with the territory

“The numbers highlight the lack of deterrence regarding attacks on olive trees owned by Palestinians: only four indictments over the course of nine years, and hundreds of cases investigated are tantamount to permission from the authorities to continue attacking the livelihood of thousands of families,” Cohen added.

Despite pledges by Israeli politicians to crack down on settler violence against Palestinians, colloquially known as “price tag” attacks, and the establishment of a police unit dedicated to fighting the phenomenon, it persists and effective law enforcement remains elusive.

Last year +972’s Larry Derfner reported in depth on settler violence and why it is not being stopped, both by Israel and the international community. Read his report here.

WATCH: Masked settler beats Palestinian with metal pipe
For Israel’s police, settler violence is but a fantasy

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    1. CigarButNoNice

      With those spelling mistakes, תז instead of תג and כהנה instead of כהנא, it’s a lot more likely the vandals were Arab colonists or their Western left-wing supporters rather than Jewish inhabitants of Judea and Samaria.

      I’m reminded of a picture from the Queers For Palestine demo (you know, those guys and gals who demonstrate against the only country in the ME where they’re allowed to live—PINKWASHING! RAAAAACIST! ZIONISSSSST! Did I miss anything?) where one of the demonstrators held an anti-occupation sign saying דאי לקיבוש. A hilarious misspelling of די לכיבוש providing a moment of levity. But that level of Hebrew knowledge will suffice when the need comes to put the blame on the Jewish returnees. If burning their own olive trees works, then why shouldn’t the Arab settler-colonial land thieves do it to their mosques? The West wants demonization material, hence it shall have it.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Brian

      Cuz Jews could NEVER do that. Cuz we’re perfect, Übermenschen, the chosen. God is our real estate agent. Must be them untermenschlichen A-rabs. God hates ’em. Yup.

      Reply to Comment
      • Brian

        The foregoing is meant as satire. Do I need to state that? Yes. God forbid some of these folks take this literally. You never know. But do your research and you can find a number of settler rabbis who do talk similarly or worse.

        Reply to Comment
    3. Sarah

      @ Cigar:

      Jewish settlers are incapable of spelling mistakes? In the heat of a moment, filled with adrenalin, you can’t imagine someone accidentally writing a gimmel backwards, or misspelling a word?

      Your desire to not witness your brethren doing such shameful things is so strong that you can’t help but come up with this type of rationalization.

      It is painful to admit that Israel and its military (and settler) complex are not of the mythologized purity of moral character we have been brainwashed to believe.

      See these acts for what they are: acts of hate motivated by radical ideology

      Then only, can we move forward.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Danny

      “With those spelling mistakes”

      From my personal experience, Jewish Israelis are horrible at Hebrew and make many, many spelling and grammatical mistakes. I’m 100% certain that the vandals were Jewish settlers, not Arabs.

      Reply to Comment
      • Ginger Eis

        You really are a buffoon!

        Reply to Comment
    5. Noe

      I’ve never seen a funnier comment stream.

      The graffiti misspells Kahane’s name!

      How could disciples of Kahane misspell his name in Hebrew?

      Also, the joke of the comment about Israelis being horrible at Hebrew and spelling is too funny. I haven’t looked in a while but at least until about 5 years ago, Israelis owned more books per capita than any other nationality on the planet. I guess they just buy them to put in their libraries and never bother to learn to read.

      Too funny.

      Reply to Comment