Minister orders formation of local committees to protect mosques
Published Wednesday 15/01/2014 (updated) 17/01/2014 18:50
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- The Palestinian Authority's minister of religious endowments and religious affairs on Wednesday decided to form local committees to monitor and protect mosques from settler attacks.
Mahmoud al-Habbash's decision was announced during a visit to a mosque in the Salfit village of Deir Istiya which was burned by settlers earlier on Wednesday.
Al-Habbash instructed installing cameras on mosques near settlements in order protect them from further attacks.
A group of settlers on set fire to the facade of the mosque in Deir Istiya and sprayed racist slogans on its walls, local officials said.
The mayor of Deir Istiya, Ayyub Abu Hijlah, told Ma'an that settlers sneaked into the village before dawn prayers and set fire to the main door of the mosque, causing minor damages.
"Local residents, alerted by a worshiper who saw the fire while on his way to perform dawn prayer, scared the settlers away and put out the fire," he said.
PA official Ghassan Daghlas said that locals managed to extinguish the blaze before it spread to the interior of the mosque.
"Arabs out!" and "Best regards from Qusra," were sprayed on the mosque, according to Israeli news site Ynet.
Other graffiti reading "The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance: He shall wash his feet in the blood of the wicked" was also found.
Last Tuesday, villagers in the Qusra and Jalud area managed to apprehend a group of settlers who had attempted to attack them and their property, holding them for several hours in a house.
The settlers, who were from the illegal outpost of Esh Kodesh, were later transferred to Israeli security forces after the villagers called PA liaison officials.
Settler attacks against Palestinians and their property are routine and often happen in the presence of Israeli military forces.