[Marxism] West Bank Mosque Is Set Ablaze and Vandalized

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jun 19 08:33:49 MDT 2012

NY Times June 19, 2012
West Bank Mosque Is Set Ablaze and Vandalized

JERUSALEM — A West Bank mosque was burned and vandalized early on 
Tuesday, with graffiti warning in Hebrew of a “war” over the 
impending evacuation of the Jewish settlement of Ulpana.

Police officials said it was the fourth attack on a mosque in the 
last 18 months and part of a recent uptick in so-called price tag 
episodes by radical settlers.

The Ulpana evacuation has been seen as a key test for Prime 
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, and he immediately 
condemned the attack as “the work of intolerant, irresponsible 
lawbreakers,” adding, “We will act quickly in order to bring them 
to justice.”

Micky Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Israeli police, said that 
several suspects entered Jabaa, a Palestinian village of 4,200 
about five miles from both Jerusalem and Ramallah, early on 
Tuesday, then broke a large window in the mosque and set a fire 
that burned several yards of a carpet and wall. Outside the 
building, the slogan “Ulpana war” was written on the right side of 
the window, and “price tag” on the left, suggesting the attack was 
in exchange for the coming evacuation.

Known as the Grand Mosque of Jabaa, the two-story structure was 
built three years ago to replace a smaller mosque, and it has a 
yellow dome that quickly became a recognizable landmark in the 
area roughly eight miles south of the Ulpana settlement. Residents 
in Jabaa said they saw light inside the empty and locked mosque 
around 1:30 a.m. and broke through the gate to put out the fire. 
Mr. Rosenfeld said the police arrived at 6 a.m.

Abdul Kareem Bsharat, the mayor of Jabaa, said his is a peaceful 
village and blamed settlers for the vandalism. “This time we 
succeeded in controlling the fire, but I don’t feel this is over,” 
Mr. Bsharat said. “They can do worse than this. Our citizens and 
their property are in danger.”

Israel’s Supreme Court has ordered the evacuation by July 1 of 
five buildings in Ulpana, a neighborhood of the large settlement 
of Beit El, that apparently sit on Palestinian-owned land and 
house 30 families. As the deadline approaches, it has become a 
flash point in the larger debate over settlements, with some 
right-wing Parliament members threatening to leave Mr. Netanyahu’s 
coalition if he allows the evacuation to proceed and some 
activists threatening to riot and even risk death to prevent it.

Last-minute negotiations were under way on Tuesday between the 
government and leaders of Bet El in hopes of securing a peaceful 
evacuation rather than a confrontation with the police, who had a 
huge training operation in the desert on Monday in preparation.

Dani Dayan, the head of the settlers’ Yesha Council, said that if 
Mr. Netanyahu promised to do some of the things he has suggested 
in recent days, including moving rather than destroying the five 
buildings and adding 300 more units to Bet El and also vowed that 
Ulpana would not set a precedent for government policy elsewhere, 
the families would go peacefully.

“It’s quite clear to everyone, both to the government and to us, 
that we have more or less a 24-hour deadline,” Mr. Dayan said. 
“Not reaching an agreement in 24 hours means not reaching an 
agreement at all. Today is the decisive day.”

But Mr. Dayan acknowledged that “no one can control” the more 
radical settlers, who are suspected of responsibility for the 
mosque attack and who have been threatening violence at Ulpana. 
“It’s a completely different thing if the families that live in 
the houses refuse to evacuate them or some external forces make 
some riot,” he said.

Mr. Dayan also condemned the attack. "Setting fire to a place of 
worship is a moral low and also a move that causes great damage to 
settlement," he said on Israel Radio.

Dan Halutz, a former chief of staff of the Israeli Army, said that 
the authorities did not do enough to crack down on “price tag” 
vandalism, which he called “counterterrorism.”

“If we wanted, we could catch them and when we want to, we will,” 
Mr. Halutz said on Army Radio.

Khaled Abu Aker reported from Jabaa, West Bank.

More information about the Marxism mailing list