Palestinian Center for Human Rights, 15 October 2014
The Palestinian Center for Human rights (PCHR) condemns the crime committed by Israeli settlers on Tuesday, 14 October 2014, when they set fire to Abu Baker al-Siddiq Mosque in ‚Aqraba village, southeast of Nablus, and painted slogans on its walls. PCHR believes that Israeli occupation forces‘ connivance, support and protection for the settlers encourage them to commit more organized crimes against the Palestinian civilians, and these crimes are the outcome of Israeli governments’ persistent incitements against the Palestinians, which drive the settlers into more hatred and extremism. PCHR condemns such attacks and Israeli government’s complicity and encouragement for them. Moreover, PCHR calls upon the international community to act immediately to provide protection for the Palestinian civilians in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt).
According to investigations conducted by PCHR and eyewitness‘ testimonies, at approximately 06:15 on Tuesday, 14 October 2014, after al-Fajer (dawn) prayer in Abu Baker al-Siddiq Mosque in ‘Aqraba village, southeast of Nablus, a civilian saw smoke coming out of the southern window of women’s section on the first floor of the mosque. He immediately informed the worshippers on the second floor who started leaving the mosque through its eastern exit. They rushed to the women’s section through the western entrance and tried to extinguish fire. Twenty minutes later, they managed to extinguish the fire. After examining the place, they found that the southern window of the women’s section had been shattered and flammable substances were poured on the carpets. The bottles of the flammable substances were left at the window. Later, the Palestinian police arrived at the place and collected the evidence. At approximately 10:30, the Israeli liaison and police arrived at the place and opened an investigation into the attack.
It should be noted that the mosque is located in Ras Karkas quarter in the southern side of ‘Aqraba village, which is less than 400 meters from Trans-Samaria road. The settlers wrote a slogan in Hebrew on walls of the mosque and signed it ‚Price Tag in Taffoah settlement‘. The slogan further says that this attack was in revenge for Kahana, a settler from the aforementioned settlement, who was killed several years ago by a Palestinian from ‘Aqraba on the same date.
PCHR has constantly warned of the escalation of attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians and property. PCHR strongly condemns escalated attacks by Israeli forces and settlers in the oPt, in particular attacks by settlers in the West Bank, and:
1. Calls upon the international community to pressurize Israeli authorities to refrain from providing protection and connivance to settlers in regards to crimes committed by them and demands the Israeli government to prosecute settlers who perpetrate such attacks;
2. Calls upon the international community to pressurize Israel to comply with its obligations under the international law and end all settlement activities in the oPt;
3. Reminds the international community that settlement is a war crime according to the international law, so the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention, individually or jointly, must comply with their legal and moral obligations, and ensure Israel’s respect for the Convention in the oPt, in accordance with Article 1 of the Convention.