Jewish settlers vandalized a mosque and attempted to set it ablaze on Sunday night, July 26, in the West Bank Palestinian city of Al-Bireh near Ramallah according to Al Ittihad, the Arabic-language daily Communist newspaper.
MK Ayman Odeh condemned the attack and held Israel responsible. “It’s the fruit of the criminal occupation,” said the leader of the Joint List, and called on the Israeli authorities to swiftly bring those responsible for the crime to justice.
Photos from the scene show charred walls and a blackened row of sinks, as well as graffiti spray-painted on an outer wall of the mosque reading “Siege on Arabs, not on Jews” and “the Land of Israel belongs to the People of Israel.” Following the attack, Joint List MK Ofer Cassif (Hadash) said, “Those who are charged with criminal activity shouldn’t be those who protest against Netanyahu in Jerusalem and block roads, but those who vandalized and damaged the mosque in Al-Bireh.”
Palestinians maintain that Israeli settlers promulgated the attack with the covert support of the government. The Negotiation Affairs Department of the PLO tweeted: “Supported by their government, Israeli settlers continue to attack Palestinians, their property and places of worship, even during the current trying times under #COVID19. At dawn today, they attacked / set fire into Al-Bir Wal-Ihsan Mosque in Al-Bireh nearby Ramallah.” PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat tweeted, “This is [an act of] racism and apartheid.”
Tag Meir, an Israeli group, which works to counter hate crimes, racism and “price tag” attacks linked the torching of the mosque in Al-Bireh to other such recent acts of hate-inspired vandalism on both sides of the Green Line. “The torching of the mosque in Al-Bireh follows that of a mosque in the Sharafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem which was set ablaze in January 2020 and the mosque in Jish in the Galilee that was desecrated in February 2020,” The group indicated that “since 2009, 60 mosques, churches and monasteries have been torched and desecrated” in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. Despite dozens of hate crimes targeting Palestinians and their property over the past year, arrests of suspects have been rare.