Israeli Settlers Torch Cars, Spray-Paint Racist Slogans in West Bank

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Palestinians perform prayer in front of the al-Huda Mosque, which was torched by Israeli settlers in Bethlehem's al-Jabaa Village, West Bank on February 25, 2015. Anadolu/Issam Rimawi

Published Thursday, March 5, 2015

Israeli settlers torched two cars belonging to Palestinians and spray-painted anti-Arab slogans on the streets of a village in the occupied West Bank at dawn Thursday, Anadolu news agency reported, in the latest attack against Palestinians and their properties.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian activist said Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) demolished a total of 50 homes in the Negev desert in southern Occupied Palestine so far in 2015.

"Zionist settlers stormed al-Mughayir village, spray-painted racist slogans on several walls and torched two cars," Faraj al-Naasan, the head of the village's local council, said.

"The slogans — written in Hebrew — included 'Death to Arabs' and 'Glory to Jews' as well as the phrase 'Price Tag,'" he added.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba Samri said in a statement that the Israeli police received a complaint from Palestinians about a new suspected "nationalist attack” on Wednesday night in al-Mughayir town, near Ramallah.

A joint army-police force arrived at the scene to investigate the incident, she added.

“Price tag" is a euphemism for nationalist-motivated hate crimes by Jewish extremists, which generally target Palestinians or Palestinians with Israeli citizenship and have increasingly also hit Christian and Muslim places of worship.

Last week, Israeli settlers set fire to a church-owned building in Jerusalem overnight, hours before settlers spray-painted racist graffiti on the walls of a Palestinian school and two days after settlers torched a mosque in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erakat described the perpetrators of such incidents as "terrorists,” blaming Israel's government for inciting the attacks by continuing its "illegal occupation and colonization (of the Palestinian territories) based on distorted religious claims."

In November, a group of Israeli settlers broke in and torched a mosque in the Palestinian village of al-Mughayyir near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Witnesses said the settlers burnt 12 copies of the Qur'an, Islam's holy book, and set the carpets of the first floor of the two-story building on fire. Racist slogans were also sprayed on the walls of the mosque.

At the time, Palestinian Religious Endowments Minister Yousef Adeis said that the mosque torching was proof of "racist Israeli incitement" against Muslim and Christian houses of worship, adding that in October alone settlers carried out 110 separate attacks on religious sites across the Palestinian territories.

Hate crimes by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property are systematic and often abetted by Israeli authorities, who rarely intervene in the violent attacks or prosecute the perpetrators.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there have been 2,100 Zionist settler violence attacks in the past eight years. The number quadrupled from 115 in 2006 to 399 in 2013.

More than 600,000 Israeli settlers, soaring from 189,000 in 1989, live in settlements across the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.

Israel demolished 50 homes in Negev so far in 2015

A Palestinian activist said Thursday the IOF demolished a total of 50 homes in the Negev desert in southern Occupied Palestine since the beginning of this year.

Suleiman Abu Ebeid, spokesman for NGO Naqab Association for Land and Human Beings, said that Israel demolished a total of 1,000 homes in Negev in 2014.

Last month, the IOF demolished eight Bedouin homes in Negev on the pretext that they lacked building permits.

The head of the regional council for Bedouin villages unrecognized by Israeli authorities, Attiya al-Asam, said at the time that the "brutality" of demolitions has increased recently in Bedouin towns in Occupied Palestine.

In 2013, authorities said that the homes of the 1,500 residents of the village were to be demolished because the area had been converted into a closed military zone.

Palestinians with Israeli citizenship complain of routine discrimination, particularly in housing, land access and employment.

There are about 260,000 Bedouin in historical Palestine, mostly living in and around the Negev in the arid south.

The Israeli government classifies approximately 40 villages in the Negev desert as "unrecognized," arguing that the roughly 53,000 Palestinian Bedouins living there cannot prove their ownership of the land and are hence living there “illegally.”

Claiming that most of the land in the Negev desert is Israeli "state property," Israel has repeatedly demolished Bedouin homes in the area.

In November, the IOF razed the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev Desert for the 78th time in four years.

The village was demolished for the first time in July 2010, before being rebuilt with metal and wood.

Dozens of Palestinians with Israeli citizenship living in Araqib say that they have owned the land since before Israel came into being in 1948.

Meanwhile, Bedouins are regularly attacked by the IOF, who killed 22-year-old Sami al-Jaar in the southern Negev region on January 14. During Jaar’s funeral, a 45-year-old Bedouin man, Sami Ibrahim Zayadna, suffocated to death due to tear gas sprayed by Israeli forces.

The roots of the Israel-Palestine conflict date back to 1917, when the British government, in the now-infamous Balfour Declaration, called for "the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people."

Jewish immigration rose considerably under the British administration of Palestine, which was consolidated by a League of Nations "mandate" in 1922.

In 1948, with the end of the mandate, a new state — Israel — was declared inside historical Palestine.

As a result, some 700,000 Palestinians fled their homes, or were forcibly expelled, while hundreds of Palestinian villages and cities were razed to the ground by invading Zionist forces.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state — a move never recognized by the international community.

(Anadolu, Al-Akhbar)

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