PCHR condemns setting fire to a mosque in the West Bank and warns against settler attacks in the coming days

News and Press Release
Originally published

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the systematic attacks carried out by settlers against Islamic and Christian holy places in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), the latest of which was setting fire to the ground floor of (Thu al-Norain) mosque in Qasra village, southeast of Nablus. This new crime is part of settler attacks against the Palestinian civilians which come on the eve of the Palestinian Authority heading to the United Nations, pursuing full membership of Palestine in the United Nations. Additionally, these attacks are carried out in the context of incitement practiced by the Israeli government against the Palestinian Authority, which encourages settlers to continue their attacks.

According to investigations conducted by PCHR, on Monday morning, 05 September 2011, a group of settlers from the Yesh Koudec settlement outpost entered into Qasra village, located approximately 2 north of the outpost. They broke a window on the ground floor of the two-storey (Thu al-Norain) mosque, which is situated in the southwestern side of Qasra. The settlers then brought two tires to the ground floor, poured a flammable substance from a bottle, threw the bottle near the tires and set fire to the mosque. As a result, the fire spread across the targeted floor and caused damages to the walls and ceiling. After starting the fire, the settlers wrote on the walls of the mosque. The writings included insults to the Prophet Mohammed and “social justice”, a reference to the social protests in Israel. They also drew the (Red Star of David) on the wall of Ayman Tayseer Omran's house, which is located near the mosque.

PCHR emphasizes its condemnation regarding this attack and warns against the escalation of settler attacks in the coming days. It furthermore:

  1. Calls upon the Israeli Occupation Forces to stop offering permanent protection to the settlers by covering up their crimes against Palestinian civilians and their property, by which the settlers are encouraged to continue carrying out such attacks;

  2. Calls upon the international community to exert pressure on the Israeli government in order to hold the latter accountable under international law and end all forms of settlement in oPt;

  3. Reminds the international community that the construction of settlements in occupied territory constitutes a war crime under international law. Therefore, the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, individually or collectively, have to fulfill their legal and moral obligations and work towards ensuring Israel's abidance by the Convention and its implementation in the oPt according to article 1 of the Convention.