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Settlers rampage through West Bank villages, vandalize mosques

Dec. 2, 2008 10:57 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 2, 2008 10:57 A.M.)
Nablus - Ma'an - Israeli settlers rampaged through five villages in the northern West Bank early on Tuesday, vandalizing mosques, attacking farms and harassing residents.

In the villages of Yatma, Qabalan and As-Sawiya, south of Nablus, settlers slashed the tires of more than 20 cars and also set fire to thousands of shekels worth of straw bales, used as animal feed.

In As-Sawiya, settlers wrote slogans insulting Islam and the prophet Mohammad on the walls of a local mosque.

Hikmat Abu Ras, a resident of As-Sawiya who works for the Palestinian Ministry of Planning, said that when residents awoke they witnessed the settlers already fleeing the village. He said settlers painted a star of David and slogans such as "Death to Arabs" on the village mosque.

He said that residents of the village, particularly students, were harassed by settlers while they waited for transportation in the morning on the road between Nablus and Ramallah.

As-Sawiya is ringed by three settlements: Rechelim, Eli and Shilo.

Separately, Palestinian medical sources reported that Israeli troops installed a new gate on the Nablus-Tulkarem road and erected a checkpoint near the village of Deir Sharaf.

Also, dozens of settlers demonstrated near the Za'tara checkpoint, north of Nablus, while Israeli soldiers massed to protect them.

Meanwhile, residents of Sinjil and Turmus'ayya in the north of Ramallah governorate found racist slogans written in Hebrew painted on the floors of two mosques when they arrived for morning prayers on Tuesday.

Residents denounced what they said was an attack by settlers and an affront to their religion.
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