Suspected Jewish extremists firebombs Palestinian house

Israeli security forces fire a tear gas canister during clashes with Palestinian protesters at a checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem.

RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territories - Suspected Jewish extremists firebombed a house in a Palestinian village in the occupied West Bank early on Sunday, its mayor told AFP, pointing the finger of blame at local settlers.

"At 4:00am (0200 GMT), settlers came and threw molotov cocktails at a house which partly burned down," said Masud Abu Mura, mayor of Khirbet Abu Falah, northeast of Ramallah.

He said four women were inside the house at the time, but they all escaped unharmed.

Near the house, the assailants scrawled "Death to Arabs" in Hebrew.

Israeli police, who are responsible for all settler-related incidents in the West Bank, confirmed receiving the report.

A spokeswoman said investigators were on their way to the scene.

The attack and the graffiti bore the hallmarks of so-called "price tag" violence -- a euphemism for nationalist-motivated hate crime by Jewish extremists aimed at Arab property.

Such attacks began as a reaction to state moves against the settlements but have since escalated into a much broader expression of xenophobia, often in response to Palestinian violence.

Last week, two Palestinians burst into a Jerusalem synagogue with meat cleavers and a gun and killed four rabbis at prayer, as well as a policeman who came to their aid, in the deadliest violence the city has seen in six years.

The attack came after months of unrest in the annexed eastern sector of the city, where there have been almost daily battles between police and stone throwers, which has spread across the West Bank and to Arab communities inside Israel.