Israeli settlers have been accused of attacking a mosque in the occupied West Bank, setting alight carpets and spraying Hebrew graffiti on its walls.
Palestinian residents of al-Mughayyir village awoke for dawn prayers to find smoke billowing from the mosque, Darwish Haj Mohammed, the mosque imam, said on Tuesday.
"There are slogans which show without doubt that settlers entered the mosque and burned it," Mohammed said, adding that the arsonists had broken in through the windows.
Hebrew graffiti scrawled on the mosque wall read "Price tag - Eley Ain", signalling the attack had been mounted in retribution for the removal by the Israeli authorities of a structure at Eley Ain, a nearby settlement outpost, last week.
The attack drew strong condemnation from Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, and Ehud Barak, the defence minister.
"This is a criminal act intended as a provocation. Israel has pioneered respect of freedom of worship and will work decisively against all who harm this principle," Netanyahu said in a statement.
The Israeli defence minister said he had instructed the military to "use all means to apprehend the perpetrators", adding that the "criminal act was intended to ... harm the chances of living in peace side by side".
"Israeli authorities cannot continue to turn a blind eye, which gives settlers impunity to continue with their a... >>>
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