Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said Monday that he had sent a letter to world powers, including the US, EU and UN, asking them to designate settler groups that attack Palestinian people and property as “terrorist organizations.”
Al-Maliki wrote, according to Reuters, that extremist settlers known as the “Hilltop youth” and other militant settlers who commit “price tag” hate crimes “practice terror … constantly against the Palestinian people, their land, holy places and property.”
“These groups play a role in killing, incitement to violence and spreading the culture of racism and hatred,” he said in the letter, which was sent to Russia, the US, Canada, the EU, the UN, the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic States, according to the report.
“Price tag” attacks have spiked in recent weeks. In the past, the crimes have included graffiti on property, the destruction of olive groves and even arson. The attacks have also targeted Christian property and places of worship. No such attacks are known to have caused any deaths.
On Friday, internationally acclaimed Israeli writer Amos Oz referred to extremist settlers who perpetrate such hate crimes as “Hebrew neo-Nazis,” saying that there is nothing that neo-Nazi groups do in Europe that members of the Hilltop youth and other extremists don’t do in Israel.
The Samaria Residents Committee, a settler organization, filed a police complaint against Oz for his comments, calling them “a serious incitement to racism.”
The head of the Roman Catholic church in the Holy Land said Sunday that price tag attacks against Muslims and Christians were souring relations ahead of a papal visit later this month.
“The unrestrained acts of vandalism poison the atmosphere – the atmosphere of co-existence and the atmosphere of collaboration, especially in these two weeks prior to the visit of Pope Francis,” Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal said.
AFP contributed to this report.