Israeli police said they arrested two men from a hardline West Bank settlement Tuesday on suspicion of carrying out hate crimes and a third for condoning violence against soldiers.
“Two people from Yitzhar were arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation into suspicions of criminal activity of a nationalistic nature,” spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP, adding that a court order barred him from giving further details.
Israeli public radio said the young men were suspected of taking part in “price tag” attacks — hate crimes by Jewish extremists that mostly target Palestinian and Arab property, but have also included attacks on other non-Jews as well as left-wing Israelis and the security forces.
Rosenfeld said a third Yitzhar resident was arrested for inciting violence against Israeli troops after allegedly posting a statement online which defended harming soldiers involved in anti-settlement operations.
Yitzhar is a bastion of Jewish extremists in the northern West Bank where there is a seminary run by Yitzhak Ginsburg, an American-born rabbi known for authoring a book condoning the killing of non-Jews.
Another two Yitzhar residents were arrested on Sunday on suspicion of slashing the tires of around 40 cars in a predominantly Christian Arab village in northern Israel last month. At the scene, Hebrew graffiti read: “Only Gentiles should be removed from our land.”
Attacks on Christian targets increased in the run-up to a brief visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by Pope Francis, which ended on Monday.