A former Shin Bet head said Sunday that Yoram Cohen, the current head of the internal security organization, does not take seriously the wave of recent hate-crime vandalism of Palestinian and Arab Israeli property by ultra-nationalist Jews.
Carmi Gillon, who headed Shin Bet from 1994 to 1996 and who currently serves as mayor of Jerusalem suburb town Mevasseret Zion, said Cohen does not invest enough resources in stopping the vandalism.
“He belittles the danger of these activities. He apparently does not prioritize this matter,” Gillon told Army Radio Sunday.
His comments came as two more anti-Arab “price tag” vandalism attacks were reported in Israel Sunday, one near Jerusalem and one in the lower Galilee town of Yokne’am.
A fringe of mostly radical settlers has carried out vandalism in recent years to protest Israeli policy and respond to actions by Palestinians, drawing condemnation by Israeli leaders but few arrests.
On Sunday, anti-Arab graffiti was found spray-painted at a building site outside Jerusalem. Authorities opened an investigation Sunday into graffiti found at a construction site in Kiryat Ye’arim, also known as Telz Stone, a predominantly ultra-Orthodox Jewish community near Jerusalem, adjacent to the Arab town of Abu Ghosh.
The overnight guard at the construction site said that he left the area for around two hours, and when he returned he found the graffiti, the Maariv daily reported. The words “price tag” and “Kahane was right” were found spray-painted on a tractor.
Price tag refers to vandalism and other hate crimes usually carried out by Jewish ultra-nationalists in retaliation for government policies against the settler movement, often but not always, against Arab property.
Rabbi Meir Kahane was a Jewish ultra-nationalist who founded the Kach party, which was later banned as racist, before being assassinated in 1990. “Kahane was right” refers to his anti-Arab policies.
Price tag attacks have become increasingly common in recent weeks. Earlier Sunday morning, police clashed with residents of the Yitzhar settlement in the West Bank as they arrived to investigate a suspect in recent attacks, and on Saturday, over 30 olive trees in the West Bank Arab village of Nahalin were found to have been uprooted.
Also on Sunday, a vehicle in the northern town of Yokne’am, belonging to a building contractor from Kafr Kanna, was found with its tires slashed and “price tag” written in marker along the body. According to a Ynet News report, the vehicle had been targeted in a similar attack in the past.
Several Arab contractors had their tires slashed last week in the city.
The vandalism in Yokne’am was the latest in a spate of “price tag” attacks in the north. Last week alone, several mosques were vandalized and dozens of cars were found with slashed tires in several northern Arab-Israeli towns.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.