West Bank mosque torched in suspected revenge attack


Israeli settlers torched a West Bank mosque in an apparent revenge attack on Wednesday, Palestinian officials said.

Months of unrest have escalated in recent days, spreading from annexed east Jerusalem to the occupied West Bank and Arab communities across Israel, and raising fears of a new Palestinian uprising.

In a televised address late on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered a raft of additional security measures nationwide to tackle escalating Arab protests.

The pre-dawn arson attack on a mosque near the Jewish settlement of Shilo came after separate Palestinian knife attacks on Monday killed a settler in the southern Western Bank and an Israeli soldier in Tel Aviv.

“The settlers set fire to the whole of the first floor of the mosque” in Al Mughayir village near the West Bank city of Ramallah, a security official said. Police confirmed the incident and opened an investigation.

Also overnight, a molotov cocktail was thrown at an ancient synagogue in the Arab Israeli town of Shfaram, causing minor damage, police said.

The structure is not currently used for worship.

The attack on the mosque came with Palestinian anger already running high after Israeli troops shot dead a protester in the southern West Bank on Tuesday.

The death of the 22-year-old near Hebron came as troops tried to disperse about 150 Palestinians who were hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at passing cars close to the Kiryat Arba settlement, the army said.

Since the current round of violence began five months ago with the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers by militants, at least 17 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank, according to an AFP count.