Attack on West Bank mosque is third price tag incident in a week

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Suspected right-wing Jewish vandals set a West Bank mosque on fire.

The door of the mosque in the northern West Bank near the large Ariel settlement was damaged. The fire did not spread to the rest of the mosque.

Graffiti also was painted on the mosque’s walls including: “Arabs out, “Hi from Kusra’ and “Revenge for spilled blood in Kusra,” according to Haaretz.

Last week, on Jan. 7, some 15 Israelis marched from the Esh Kodesh outpost into Kusra in a move police believed was intended as a show of force. A Palestinian mob took the men hostage and beat them before the Israel Defense Forces intervened and extracted the men. According to some accounts, Palestinian residents prevented other Palestinians from lynching the Israelis.

There have been at least two other reprisals by what are believed to be right-wing settlers, in recent days.

The Israel Defense Forces condemned the vandalism and said it diverts the military’s attention from keeping the area secure for its Jewish residents.

The vandalism comes two days after reports that leading rabbis of the National Religious movement signed a public letter condemning such price-tag attacks.

“Price tag” refers to the strategy that extremist settlers and their supporters have adopted to exact retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions or Palestinian attacks on Jews.

“There is a wonderful community of thousands of Jews in Judea and Samaria who are loyal to the State of Israel,” the letter said, according to Israel National News. “This community is often subject to attack by Arab thieves, vandals, and terrorists. We truly empathize with the plight of this community. However we ask the youth and young adults not to allow themselves to become sucked into acts of revenge and criminal activities as a result.”

The rabbis’ letter continued: “The so-called ‘price tag’ attacks are against Jewish law and ethics. They are illegal and cause a desecration of G-d’s Name. Beyond this, the attacks damage the standing of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and stains the names of a large number of law-abiding people.”