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Al Lubben: Village Mosque Burned

At about 3:00 a.m., May 4th, it is suspected that settlers from one the the three illegal settlements near Al Lubben ash Sharqija village, entered the village setting fire to the mosque. The villagers said they thought they heard noises and movement of cars before they realized the mosque had been set ablaze. A fire truck was called, but too late to prevent most of the damage. The mosque, built in 1977 in this small village of about 3000 persons, was under some reconstruction. One estimate of the repair costs due to the fire was well over $100,000.00.

MPT visited the village and mosque on May 5th. Inside the mosque it appears that settlers had stacked up 50 or so copies of the Koran and set them on fire. Layers of soot from the fire covered the white stone interior of the mosque, making it appear as if it had been painted black. Carpets were burned completely or blackened beyond use.

The Palestinian Authority will do further research on the cause of the fire, but the 50 stacked and burned Korans indicate probable settler activity. The Israeli Civil Authority blamed faulty wiring, but the electricity was shut off in the area when the fire seems to have begun, and this village has had frequent attacks from the three nearby settlements.
The Friday following the burning Tuesday burning, representatives from various villages, governmental, international and Israeli organizations, including Rabbis for Human Rights visited the village and the mosque. Rabbis for Human Rights demanded a thorough investigation.

There has been not been definitive statement from Palestinian authorities about the cause of the fire, but more information might be gained from the security tapes from the Israeli Occupation Forces watchtowers that overlook the mosque.

A New York Times report www.nytimes.com/2010/05/05/world/middleeast/05mideast.html reflected the official Israeli view that the cause of the fire was not arson. That there was a NY Times report on this incident may indicate an awareness that settler attacks ought to be news worthy.

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