Justice Minister Tzipi Livni vowed on Wednesday to “deal uncompromisingly and severely” with anti-Palestinian “price tag” attacks by extremist Jewish nationalists.
Her comments followed the indictment Wednesday of three Israeli Jews from a West Bank outpost.
The men, all from Havat Gilad, an illegal outpost in the northern West Bank, were charged with the November 19 torching of two Palestinian cars in the village of Farata and the spraying of Stars of David on walls within the village.
The far-right activists sought to advance their ideological goals “at the cost of casting fear over government decisions and sowing terror among the Palestinian population,” according to a statement from the Shin Bet, which was conducting the investigation against them.
“I want to congratulate the law enforcement authorities for their fight against the price tag phenomenon,” said Livni in a statement. “We will deal uncompromisingly and severely with price tag criminals.”
“This is an ugly nationalist crime driven by hatred and intended to hurt our sensibilities, to incite violence and to undermine [peace] negotiations,” she said. “The State of Israel is a state of laws, and our society is founded on democratic values of equality and tolerance. We are determined to keep it that way.”
The three men awaiting trial are Yehuda Landsberg, Binyamin Richter and Yehuda Savir.
Over the past several years the villages around Nablus and other parts of the northern West Bank have been the scene of such “price tag” attacks, targeting Palestinian property and holy sites. The army, police and Shin Bet have been struggling to bring suspected perpetrators to trial.
Besides harming Palestinian property and people, the Shin Bet said, the attacks have also forced the intelligence organization to divert “considerable manpower” to the phenomenon and caused “grave damage to Israel’s image in the international arena.”