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He and other residents said they saw a car pull up to the mosque before dawn. Two men then rushed inside while another two stood guard outside and two men stayed in the car, they said.

Mr. Taqatqa said he saw a small blaze and began yelling for his neighbors to come. He said they waited for the men to leave before putting out the blaze, fearing they were armed Jewish settlers. Palestinian residents complain that Israeli police do little to protect them.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police were looking into the incident.

It was the third mosque burning in the past year, following incidents in December and March.

The attack is likely to make U.S. efforts to revive peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators more difficult. Palestinian negotiators say they cannot build a state that includes the West Bank while Israel continues to expand Jewish settlements on the land they claim.

Associated Press writer Diaa Hadid in Jerusalem contributed to this report.