Over a thousand people demonstrated Monday near the northern Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm in protest of a Friday “price tag” attack in the town.
Approximately 1,200 people, said to be mostly residents of the area, rallied near the Umm al-Fahm junction, intermittently blocking Route 65 which serves as a major traffic artery between central and northern Israel.
In Friday’s attack a mosque in the town was vandalized, its front door torched and a racist slogan spray-painted on its wall.
Demonstrators said they were protesting against racial targeting. Ynet reported that many held placards with the words “Those who perpetrate ‘price tag’ will pay a price.”
The demonstration, held on the last evening of the Passover holiday when many Israelis were returning home from their vacations, led to very heavy traffic congestion on Route 65. Police recommended that drivers avoid using the road.
On Friday the words “Arabs out” were written on the wall of the Araq al-Shabab mosque in the town in what was described in the Israeli media as a suspected price tag attack. The fire lit under the door caused light damage to the building.
Hundreds of worshippers from Umm al-Fahm arrived at the mosque for Friday prayers and found the graffiti. They notified the police, who arrived at the scene. Local police launched an investigation into the attack, the fourth of its kind in northern Israel in the past month, Channel 10 reported.
Friday morning’s attack was the latest in a rash of vandalism and violence targeting Arabs in Israel and the West Bank. Earlier this month, dozens of tires were slashed on at least 15 cars in the Arab village of Jish in the Upper Galilee, and graffiti was scrawled on a wall, reading, “Only non-Jews [should be] removed from our land.”
“Price tag” is a term used to describe acts of vandalism and violence associated with the settler movement in retaliation for Palestinian attacks and 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 in such assaults.
On Sunday Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman decried the recent wave of price tag attacks, saying they harmed Israel, especially its nationalist camp.
“The irresponsible people doing this, they are the same ones who attack IDF soldiers and officers who risk their lives to defend the State of Israel,” he added, according to Ynet.
In March, a monastery near Beit Shemesh was defaced with graffiti and nearby vehicles were vandalized; attackers attempted to set fire to an Arab-owned shop in Jerusalem and damaged nearby cars; the tires of 34 cars were slashed and racist graffiti was scrawled on a bus parked in the northeastern Jerusalem Arab neighborhood of Beit Hanina; and 19 cars were vandalized in the predominantly Arab Israeli town of Jaljulia, among other incidents.
Yifa Yaakov and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.