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Settlers spray graffiti on Bethlehem-area mosques

April 7, 2013 12:31 P.M. (Updated: April 8, 2013 9:50 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Settlers sprayed racist graffiti on two mosques in a village near Bethlehem early Sunday, locals said.

The graffiti on the Tuku village's Bilal bin Rabah mosque included a threat that Palestinian stone-throwers would "pay the price" unless they stopped. They sprayed similar slogans on the Salah al-Din al-Ayoubi mosque.

Settlers also slashed the tires of two cars that were parked in the street, locals said.

Residents also said Israeli soldiers had guarded the settlers who participated in the vandalism.

An Israeli military spokeswoman did not say if troops were present in the area at the time of the incident, but she said security forces were looking into the attack.

She confirmed that graffiti was found and the tires of two cars were slashed.

The mayor of Tuqu, Taysir Abu Mfareh, told Ma’an that the Israeli side informed Palestinian workers in the nearby settlements that they would be banned from working in Israel if Israeli cars continued coming under rock attack.

The Palestinian Islamic-Christian commission denounced the incident.

It called the attack a “flagrant violation" of international law, freedom of worship, and the obligations of Israel as the occupying power in Palestine. Israel should respect places of worship, it said.

Israel returns land to Palestinians

Also Sunday, Israeli media reported that a Tel Aviv court ordered 100 dunams of land within the illegal Alfei Menashe settlement to be returned to their Palestinian owners.

Israel's Haaretz newspaper said the court ruled that the contracts purportedly documenting the sale of the land were forged.

The land originally belonged to Palestinians who fled to Jordan when Israel entered the West Bank in 1967, and the territory was catagorized as abandoned, according to the report.

The judge in the case sided with the Palestinian owners and said it should be re-registered under their names, Haaretz said, basing the decision in part on the Civil Administration's lack of approval.

The verdict was considered significant because the main organization representing settlers in the occupied West Bank do not typically receive Civil Administration approval for outposts they later seek to convert to "legal" under Israel's law.

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