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Israeli settlers suspected in new West Bank village fire: NGO

Ten people usually slept in tent that was torched on Wednesday night and tagged with graffiti
Palestinian Eman Awad puts up a fence around his home in the West Bank village of Awarta, near the Israeli settlement of Etmar, after his house was reportedly attacked by Israeli settlers last month (AFP)

A tent was torched and graffiti in Hebrew was sprayed on Thursday in a Palestinian Bedouin village in the West Bank in what residents and an NGO said was a suspected attack by Israeli settlers.

Villagers and Israeli rights group Rabbis for Human Rights said no one was inside the tent, which was housing food for livestock.

Graffiti sprayed in red paint read "administrative revenge" alongside a crudely drawn Star of David. Villagers blamed the attack on Israeli settlers and said the fire occurred at around 3am (1:00 GMT).

One of the village's residents, Ayed Kaabneh, said 10 people usually slept in the tent, which belonged to his cousin.

"Fortunately, three days ago because of the heat they went up (the mountain)," he said as he examined the charred remains.

Another resident said the assailants fled when a villager awoke and started shouting.

Police said in a statement that they had received a report on the graffiti and were investigating, but did not immediately confirm any arson attack.

The graffiti seemed to refer to the internment without charge - known as administrative detention - of three Israelis suspected of being involved in the 31 July arson attack in the West Bank village of Duma that killed 18-month-old Palestinian Ali Saad Dawabsha and his father, Saad.

The suspects have not been publicly accused of the Duma firebombing, but of unspecified links to a "Jewish extremist organisation".

The village hit by the overnight fire is located near a wildcat Israeli settlement outpost where police detained several people over the weekend in raids linked to the firebombing. Those detained were later released.

Three other Israelis were detained on Thursday for questioning related to criminal acts in the West Bank, police said. They were held in a settlement outpost near the village where the firebombing occurred.

Since August 2012, Israelis have set fire to nine Palestinian homes in the West Bank, according to B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights group which monitors settler activity. A Palestinian family was also severely burned when a Molotov cocktail was thrown at a taxi.

No one has been charged in these cases, according to B'Tselem.

In the past, perpetrators of "price tag" crimes have warned that there would be a price to pay for any action by Israeli authorities they regard as hostile to the Israeli settler movement or to far-right religious beliefs. 

Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are considered illegal under international law.

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