West Bank mosque attacked by arsonists

Nearby Israeli settlers suspected

By Ryan Ariel Simon

Vandals torched the mosque in the Palestinian village of al Mughayyir early Tuesday morning, leaving Hebrew graffiti on an exterior wall, and burned prayer rugs inside.

The attackers entered through a screen on a street level window, according to the mosque’s Imam. They then rolled a tire through the window before setting fire to it and rolling along the floor, leaving large areas of melted fabric.

A Palestinian child from al Mughayyir draws in the soot (Ryan Ariel Simon)

Residents drew their own graffiti with fingers in the thick layer of soot covering the walls and ceiling. Pictures of mosques, Arabic script, handprints, and a Palestinian flag decorated the wall coverings.

“Tag macher” or “price tag” in Hebrew, which refers to a settler policy of reprisals towards Palestinians in response to removal of any outposts, was written in spray paint on the exterior wall. Below it was a signature: Alei Ayin.

A wide valley separates the recently demolished illegal outpost of Alei Ayin, from the al Mughayyir village, about 30 kilometers north of Ramallah.

The Israeli army visited al Mughayyir earlier in the day to take a statement according to the Imam, who said that this means the beginning of a whole set of events by extremist settlers.

He worries that this is part of an effort to intimidate villagers in a campaign to confiscate the land in the valley below, which is currently filled with olive trees belonging to the village.

The residents need a permit from the Israeli District Coordination Liaison Offices (DCL) which work with Palestinian villages under occupation in Area C (land under which Israel has full military control) to access it for harvest just once a year when they need to access it three times a year, according to Deputy Nablus Governor Anan Atteereh.

News of the attack broke early this afternoon while our journalism-training class from George Mason University’s Center for World Religion, Diplomacy, and Conflict Resolution group was touring the West Bank, including the Shiloh settlement.

The events of the morning came to the attention of our tour leader Aziz Abu Sarah, who translated the resident’s comments into from Arabic to English.

After a long drive along a winding narrow road through the outskirts of the village along highway 60, we met the imam who led our group of students around the mosque, as dozens of al Mughayyir residents talked inside, and children played.

The imam said an accelerant was used, one of our group recognized it as kerosene.

Hugh McFarlane contributed to this story

The valley filled with al Mughayyir's Olive trees lies in between their village and the dismantled settlement of Alei Ayin (Ryan Ariel Simon)

A resident child or al Mughayyir stands next to the Hebrew graffiti left by vandals (Ryan Ariel Simon)

The al Mughayyir Mosque's melted rug (Ryan Ariel Simon)

4 Responses to “West Bank mosque attacked by arsonists”
  1. Amara says:

    Great photos…if totally frightening. I love the one of the kid drawing graffiti in the soot…his index finger pointing to all of the hand prints running along the wall.

  2. Hinhanska Haney says:

    Great coverage bro. I’m thinking this is going to be the first of many stories of this magnitude

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