Settlers desecrated and torched a mosque on Friday, January 24, in the village of Beit Safafa, southwest of Jerusalem. A group of Jewish settlers clandestinely entered the village before dawn, sprayed racist slogans on the walls of the Al-Badriya Mosque and then set fire to the building, partially damaging it.
The Palestinian Ministry of Religious Affairs and Awqaf [plural of Waqf – an Islamic religious trust], in charge of managing mosques affairs, condemned the attack as a “heinous crime which is evidence of the brutality of the Israeli racist incitement machine towards Islamic and Christian holy sites in Palestine.”
Many Palestinian activists and Israeli rights groups have repeatedly blamed Israel for fostering a “culture of impunity” for Jewish settlers committing acts vandalism against Palestinians, mosques and private property. Settler violence against Palestinians and their property is routine in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Arab communities in Israel and is rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.
In response to this latest attack, Hadash MK Ofer Cassif (Joint List) said “What is the government waiting for, another murder to occur? If the settlers can enter a neighborhood and burn a mosque, they can also murder human beings.”
The Israeli NGO Tag Meir which combats “Price Tag” violence against Arabs in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories stated: “The burning of the mosque by Jewish terrorists should be condemned with disgust. Whoever burns mosques in Jerusalem or any other place is seeking to incite a terrible and bloody interfaith war.” The Israeli Human Rights Group B’Tselem wrote “Settler violence has long since become part of Palestinians’ daily life under occupation. Israeli security forces enable these actions, which result in Palestinians casualties – injuries and fatalities – as well as damage to land and property. In some cases, they even serve as an armed escort, or even join in the attacks.”