Extremist Israeli settlers have reportedly broken into a mosque in a village near the northern West Bank city of Nablus and set fire to the Muslim house of worship.
A group of settlers entered the mosque in al-Lubban Ash-Sharqiyya, gathered flammables and set them alight in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the Palestine-based Ma’an news agency quoted eyewitnesses as saying.
"Residents heard cars approaching the building hours after midnight. They saw the group tear curtains from the walls and throw them together with several copies of the Quran on the mosque floor and set the pile ablaze," Ma’an quoted local officials as saying.
They said the mosque was badly damaged as police claimed an investigation had been launched into the alleged arson.
Meanwhile, Israeli authorities in the civil administration have raised doubts on the Palestinian complaints, saying the fire could have been caused by an electrical short-circuit.
Speaking to a Press TV correspondent, the imam of the mosque ruled out the possibility of an electrical malfunction, arguing that the part of the building where the blaze started does not have electricity.
Palestinians blamed Israeli settlers for an attack on a mosque in another Nablus-area village in April. The assailants sprayed graffiti, including a Jewish Star of David alongside the name of the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) in Hebrew, on the mosque walls and also set fire to two cars outside the building.
Extremist settlers also vandalized a mosque in the West Bank village of Yasuf in December, burning prayer mats and a book stand with holy Islamic texts. They also sprayed the walls with hate messages.