Two minors arrested on suspicion of planning anti-Arab vandalism were ordered to remain in jail Saturday.
The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court extended the remand of the two until Monday.
The suspects were standing at a hitchhiking stop near the central Israeli town of Elad, one with markers and nails in his possession, when detectives from the nationalist crime unit took them into custody early Friday morning.
The court had initially refused a police request Friday to extend their remand five days, instead only extending it only until Saturday night.
The arrest came amid a wave of nationalistic graffiti and tire-slashing attacks targeting Israel’s non-Jewish population, thought to be the work of Jewish extremists carrying out so-called “price tag” actions.
The acts, which have also targeted dovish Israeli groups and IDF military bases, have been condemned by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum, but a US State Department report released last week indicated that the US does not believe Israel is adequately prosecuting perpetrators of such hate crimes.
On Wednesday, police were investigating an act of racist vandalism in the city of Yokne’am after a Druze dentist reported that the walls of his office had been spray-painted with “Death to Arabs” and “price tag.” It was the second time in three weeks the same office had been vandalized, but police have yet to identify any suspects in either attack.
Also on Wednesday, the Roman Catholic Church demanded Israeli action after suspected Jewish extremists daubed hate graffiti on Vatican-owned offices in East Jerusalem just two weeks before a papal visit. Hebrew-language graffiti, reading “Death to Arabs and Christians and those who hate Israel,” was daubed over offices of the Assembly of Bishops at the Notre Dame center, a Vatican-owned complex opposite the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City, on Monday, the Roman Catholic Church said.
Over the last week, there have also been several instances of suspected retaliation from Arab communities as several Jewish sites were vandalized, including Sunday, when swastikas were discovered on a bus stop near the northern Israeli city of Karmiel.
On Tuesday, the gravesite of a 2nd-century rabbi was vandalized in northern Israel with swastikas spray-painted onto its dome, police said, in an apparent reprisal for recent hate crimes against Muslim places of worship. The words “Tag will pay a price” were found on the defaced grace of Rabbi Abba Halafta, seemingly in reference to the perpetrators of recent price tag attacks against Muslims in the north.