Police chief Yohanan Danino said Friday that the vandalism attack that took place overnight at the joint Jewish-Arab village of Neve Shalom was “especially severe’ and that the police would relentlessly track down the perpetrators.
Vandals spray-painted racist invective and slashed the tires of vehicles belonging to residents of the mixed religion community, in an apparent right-wing extremist “Price Tag” retaliation to what is regarded as government action against the settlements.
Danino said that the fact that the vandalism took place “in a place where Arabs and Jews pledged to live together in peace made the crime all the more severe” and that the police would “stop at nothing to reach the criminals and bring them to justice.”
Residents awoke Friday to find “Death to Arabs,” “Revenge,” and “Regards from Ulpana” and “Regards from Havat Gilad” scrawled in red paint across the sides of vehicles and buildings, in an apparent “Price Tag” incident.
Some pro-settler extremists use the term “Price Tag” for acts of violence carried out in ostensible response to actions that harm their cause. In the past extremists vandalized mosques and businesses belonging to Palestinian and Arab-Israelis, usually after outpost demolitions or evacuations. “Price Tag” attacks have also targeted far left-wing organizations.
The Knesset voted on Wednesday against a bill that would have effectively prevented the demolition of illegally constructed buildings in the Givat Ulpana neighborhood of Beit El. The move sparked harsh criticism by the right-wing, leading to numerous protests, disturbances of the peace and threats of “Price Tag” retaliation.
Neve Shalom posted on its facebook page that “in an apparent protest against the decision to evacuate an Israeli ‘outpost’ settlement,” thugs crept into the village, slashing tires of many cars, and spray painting right-wing and anti-Arab slogans on cars and buildings.”
Village resident Michael Zak responded to the attack saying it is not a “Price Tag” attack, but a hate crime.
“The concept of ‘price tag’ is a politically correct term; this is a hate crime, a call to violence and killing,” he said.
“The choice of Neve Shalom is not an accident. The community represents the alternative possibility, the possibility of life with equality and cooperation,” Zak added.
Havat Gilad was an illegal outpost near Nablus that the IDF’s Civil Administration demolished in February. Eight setters were arrested following clashes between Israeli security forces and the outpost’s residents.