Fire damages West Bank village mosque; Palestinian mayor suspects arson by Jewish settlers

RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Fire damaged a mosque in a West Bank village on Tuesday, burning holy books and prayer carpets — a blaze the local Palestinian mayor said he suspected Jewish settlers were responsible for.

No one witnessed the attack in Luba a-Sharkiyeh, a village ringed by three Israeli settlements, said Mayor Jamal Daraghmeh. But holy books were pulled from shelves and placed on the ground in the area that burned, suggesting arson, he added.

Settlers have attacked village property in the past, Daraghmeh said.

The mosque is undergoing renovations, but the mayor said there was no fire in the area where the renovations were taking place.

The Israeli military had no immediate comment on the cause of the fire. Israeli military liaison officers and Palestinian police were in the village investigating.

Settlers have stepped up their attacks on Palestinian property in recent months following Israeli government measures to curb settlement construction.

Israeli police arrested nine settlers in an arson attack in January on a different West Bank mosque. A prayer leader in another village said vandals defaced his mosque with Hebrew graffiti in April.