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Mosque vandalized near Nazareth

Oct. 24, 2010 10:35 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 26, 2010 9:51 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Unknown vandals removed stones from an ancient mosque in the Ma'alul village in Nazareth on Sunday, the Al-Aqsa Foundation for Endowment and Heritage said.

The stones were removed from the mosque's southern wall, the foundation said in a statement. Members visited the mosque and told the Ma'alul Heritage Association chief Ali As-Salih that it would be prepared to undertake its renovations following the damage.

Hajj Sami Rizqallah Abu Mukh, heading the delegation, described the assault on the mosque as "a serious crime and it is obvious that sinful hands demolished the southern wall of the mosque and stole a large number of its stones."

Spokesman for the Islamic Movement in Israel Zahi Njeidat condemned the vandalism and said it was "carried out by cowardly owls of darkness ... official Israeli attacks against holy places laid the grounds for such crimes."

Palestinians from the village, living in Nazareth since 1948 when its residents were expelled by Israeli militia, also visited the mosque to see the damage caused, as well as Palestinian residents of nearby villages.

The village is located six kilometers west of Nazareth city. Most of Ma'alul's land is now owned by the Jewish National Fund and the only remaining structures are two churches, a mosque and a Roman mausoleum.

The vandalism follows a wave of suspected arson attacks in mosques across the West Bank since December 2009. In September, a mosque in the Bedouin village of Ibtin, east of Haifa, was vandalized with graffiti.

The three slogans spray-painted on the building's walls read: "There will be a war over Judea and Samaria," "price tag" and "this structure is destined for demolition."

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