Israeli Settlers Torch Mosque, Run Over 10-Year-Old Palestinian Girl

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Palestinian Imam Ibrahim Abu Luha shows a burnt Qur'an, Islam's holy book, after Israeli settlers torched a mosque overnight on February 25, 2015 in the West Bank village of al-Jaba, AFP/Mousa al-Shaer

Published Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Israeli settlers set fire overnight Tuesday to a mosque in the southern West Bank town of al-Jabaa west of Bethlehem, locals told Ma’an news agency, as a settlement guard's vehicle hit and injured a 10-year-old Palestinian girl.

Witnesses, who went to the mosque at around 4:30 am to perform dawn prayers, said they smoke and flames rising from inside the al-Huda mosque.

They, with the help of neighbors, managed to put out the fire.

Racist slogans, such as “Death to Arabs,” were also spray painted on the walls of the mosque, witnesses added.

The attack coincides with the 21st anniversary of the Ibrahimi Mosque massacre in Hebron, when American-born Jewish extremist Baruch Goldstein opened fire at worshipers at dawn prayer. The attack killed 29 people and injured more than 120.

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.

Meanwhile, also on Tuesday, a Palestinian girl suffered fractures and bruises after being hit by a settlement guard's jeep in the Ein al-Lawza area of the Silwan neighborhood in annexed East Jerusalem, family said.

Mariam Karim Dana, 10, was hit as the vehicle was speeding between houses, Dana's brother Amer told Ma’an.

He said the car stopped after Mariam fell down, but then backed up again and smashed her leg.

Israeli police arrived at the scene but allowed the driver to leave without being detained or questioned.

Mariam is currently in Hadassa hospital with a broken left foot and bruises in the back and neck.

In December, a 10-year-old Palestinian boy was injured after an Israeli settler ran him over on the main road of the Palestinian village of Tuqu southeast of Bethlehem.

Months earlier, a settler ran over two Palestinian children as they walked near Ramallah, killing 5-year-old Einas Khalil.

Hate crimes by Israeli settlers against Palestinians and their property, referred to as “price tag” attacks, 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.

Earlier this month, an Israeli settler attacked a Palestinian man and a settler opened fire at several cars belonging to Palestinians in Nablus in the occupied West Bank, while a group of Zionist settlers uprooted over 570 newly planted olive tree saplings in the occupied West Bank district of Hebron.

Israeli settlers and military forces regularly burn and uproot hundreds of thousands of olive trees, which are highly symbolic for the Palestinian community.

In January, Zionist settlers uprooted more than 5,000 olive tree saplings in agricultural lands east of the town of Turmusayya in the Ramallah district.

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.

Israeli authorities have also allowed Zionist settlers to take over homes in Palestinian neighborhoods both in annexed East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and announced plans to build thousands of settlements strictly for Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem while ignoring Palestinian residents.

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."

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 then 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.

(Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)

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