JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli leaders vowed to bring the attackers of a West Bank mosque to justice.
The mosque, near Ramallah, was set on fire and vandalized early Tuesday morning in what is being called a price tag attack. The graffiti messages include "The war has begun," "Pay the price" and "Ulpana war."
"This was the work of intolerant, irresponsible lawbreakers," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday morning. "We will act quickly in order to bring them to justice."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak condemned the incident, saying in a statement, "It is an extremely serious and criminal act that was perpetrated in order to disturb the day-to-day life of the region’s inhabitants. I gave an order to the IDF and to the other security agencies to act with all the means at their disposal to capture the perpetrators and bring them to justice."
In early June, price tag attacks were carried out in an eastern Jerusalem neighborhood and in the mixed Jewish-Arab village of Neve Shalom. References to Ulpana were spray-painted on cars in both of those incidents.
Price tag refers to the strategy that extremists have adopted to exact a price in attacks on Palestinians and Arabs in retribution for settlement freezes and demolitions, or for Palestinian attacks on Jews. The graffiti referred to the upcoming removal of five homes from the outlying neighborhood of Ulpana in the Beit El settlement.
The U.S. State Department condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms."
"Hateful, dangerous, and provocative actions such as these are never justified," spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.