BETHLEHEM, Feb 27 — PLO officials on Thursday strongly condemned two attacks on Palestinian Christian and Muslim holy sites in the past 48 hours, holding the Israeli government fully responsible for the violence.
“During the last 48 hours, a Mosque near Bethlehem and a Christian seminary in Occupied East Jerusalem were set on fire by Israeli terrorists,” senior PLO official Saeb Erekat said.
“These terrorists have been incited for and protected by a government that claims exclusivity over this land and that justifies its illegal occupation and colonization based on distorted religious claims.
“Those attacks are a direct consequence of the calls for recognition of Israel as a ‘Jewish State’ and Jerusalem as the eternal and undivided capital of the Jewish people.”
Erekat called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for attacks on Palestinian holy sites.
“As a nation that takes pride in its history of religious coexistence, we send our support and solidarity to the Islamic Waqf and to all the Christian Churches in Palestine,” he added.
Hanan Ashrawi also strongly condemned the attacks, saying that such hate crimes “are not isolated incidents, but rather, they fit a longstanding pattern of deliberate provocation, extremism and violence, and are a vicious assault on all Palestinians and their holy sites.”
British Consul General Alastair McPhail called for a “swift and transparent investigation into the incident and for those responsible to be brought to justice.”
“The basic right of freedom to worship in safety and security should be available for everyone from different religions,” he added.
On Thursday suspected Jewish extremists set fire to part of a Christian seminary in East Jerusalem’s Old City and sprayed “Jesus is a son of a whore” and “Redemption of Zion” on the walls.
A day earlier, extremist Jewish settlers set fire to a mosque in the southern West Bank town of al-Jaba and sprayed racist slogans calling for killing Arabs and Muslims on the walls in Hebrew.