Former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit criticized the Israeli government’s handling of “price tag” attacks by Jewish extremists on Saturday, saying “Israel is a lawful country that does not enforce its laws.”

If Israel venerated the law, Shavit said, such activity would be prevented by authorities.

Shavit, who headed the Mossad from 1989 to 1996, spoke at a cultural and current events program in Beersheba on Saturday afternoon. Carmi Gillon, a former head of the Shin Bet security service, was also in attendance and agreed with Shavit’s position.

Gillon said the “price tag” phenomenon could be stopped if the Shin Bet decided to tackle it seriously.

Former Shin Bet head Carmi Gillon (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Former Shin Bet head Carmi Gillon (photo credit: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

“There are no results because there is no intent,” Gillon said. “In the Shin Bet there is no ‘can’t’, there is only ‘won’t.’”

“Price tag” refers to acts of violence and vandalism by a small group of Jewish extremists to protest what they perceive as the Israeli government’s pro-Palestinian policies. Mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases have been targeted by nationalist vandals in recent years.

The acts have been condemned by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum, but the attacks have continued and even increased in frequency, and few arrests have been made.

This past week saw attacks in the northern towns of Fureidis and Yokne’am, with a mosque vandalized and dozens of car tires slashed.

A US State Department terrorism report released Wednesday said Israel has not effectively countered and prosecuted radical settlers implicated in “price tag” attacks in 2013.

“Attacks by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian residents, property, and places of worship in the West Bank continued and were largely unprosecuted according to UN and NGO sources,” the report read.