Israel: Jewish Settlers spray inflammatory graffiti on mosque
rahul | November 20, 2008 at 05:47 amby
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HEBRON, West Bank (AP) - Jewish settlers on Thursday spray-painted graffiti slurring Islam's Prophet Muhammad on a mosque and defaced a Muslim cemetery, military officials said, threatening to worsen already heightened tensions in this volatile West Bank city. Israeli security forces quickly removed the graffiti and were cleaning the cemetery, the army said. The mosque stands right next to a building that has become a flashpoint for tensions between settlers and Palestinians. Settlers say they bought the building from a Palestinian, but the Palestinian denies the claim. Settlers inside the building have ignored a Supreme Court order to leave while the ownership dispute is settled. Israel's defense minister has pledged to evict them within 30 days if they don't leave voluntarily. Hebron is divided into Israeli and Palestinian-controlled sections. About 500 settlers live in guarded enclaves in the city's center among 170,000 Palestinians.
Hebron settlers are among the most extreme in the West Bank, and security officials fear violence if the house is forcefully evacuated. Early Thursday, a soldier was lightly wounded by a chemical substance sprayed at him by settlers near the house, the army said. Military vehicles were also vandalized, it said.
Hebron's Palestinian governor, Hussein al-Araj, urged Israeli authorities to halt the settler violence and carry out the court decision. «What happened is unacceptable,» he said. «The Israelis have to enforce the law and stop the suffering of the Palestinians who are living next to settlers. They have to take the settlers from this house and protect the Palestinians.
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