Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich (Yisrael Beytenu) on Saturday called this week’s “price tag” incident in Abu Ghosh a terror attack, and vowed the police would continue to combat racially motivated violence.
Speaking during a visit to Abu Ghosh, an Arab-Israeli village just outside Jerusalem, Aharonovich spoke in hopeful terms because, he said, the “contemptible and vile” acts perpetrated against the village’s Arab population didn’t harm its historically cordial relations with its Jewish neighbors, according to Israel Radio.
Tuesday morning’s incident in Abu Ghosh, in which vandals slashed the tires of 28 cars and scrawled racist invectives on nearby walls, came after the cabinet’s rejection earlier in the week of a proposal to brand such activities as terrorism. The cabinet did, however, approve measures that would make it easier for authorities to prosecute such attacks.
The term “price tag” attack is used to describe crimes, typically but not always vandalism or arson of Palestinian property, carried out by extremist Jews as ostensible retribution for Israeli government actions — such as demolition of illegal West Bank construction — which they deem contrary to settler interests.
Aharonovich and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni presented a proposal last month to classify these kinds of attacks as terrorism, in order to increase the tools at police disposal in the battle against a rising number of price tag attacks on non-Jewish targets, including churches and properties of Israeli Arabs and West Bank Palestinians.
Jerusalem District Police chief Yossi Pariente, who accompanied the minister, said the investigation of Tuesday’s attack was top priority for his department, which was given all the tools necessary to carry it out thoroughly and professionally.
Pariente and Aharonovich met with Abu Ghosh Mayor Salim Jaber and residents of the town during their visit. The minister told locals that “Abu Ghosh is a symbol of good relations. The Israel Police continue to invest great efforts in order to fight, together with the security services, against nationalist crime.”
Located a few miles west of Jerusalem, Abu Ghosh is an Arab village situated among Jewish towns and agricultural settlements on the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway, and its 6,000 residents have traditionally enjoyed particularly warm relations with their Jewish neighbors.