Security chiefs have urged far-right rabbis to help restrain radical members of the so-called “hilltop youth” after a string of anti-Arab hate crimes in recent weeks.
The unusual meeting was initiated by the Jewish division in the Shin Bet internal security services, Channel 2 News reported Sunday.
Following an arson attack — apparently by Jewish extremists — on a home in the Palestinian village of Duma, south of Nablus, in July 2015, which killed a couple and their 18-month-old child — security forces, fearful of further attacks on Palestinians, issued dozens of restraining orders intended to keep radicals away from the West Bank.
The activists are known as hilltop youth for their practice of erecting illegal outposts on hilltops in the West Bank.
The recent uptick in anti-Arab hate attacks has mainly been recorded within Israeli territory, and has been linked to protests by youngsters who are still under orders to keep away from the West Bank.
A week ago, police arrested nine young men suspected of defying restraining orders on entering the West Bank and from meeting one another.
The arrests were made in Jerusalem’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood in an apartment run by Elkana Pikar, an exiled resident of the hardline Yitzhar settlement, who is seen as a leader of the hilltop youth. He has admitted to hosting members of the group in his home, but denies any connection to acts of violence or vandalism. Last month the Shin Bet issued an order banning Pikar from the West Bank for four months due to his alleged involvement in acts of violence against Palestinians.
Earlier this month, tires were slashed and the phrases “price tag” and “Kahane was right” were spray-painted in Jerusalem’s Arab Beit Safafa neighborhood. Kahane was a rabbi and outspoken advocate of extreme Jewish nationalism who was assassinated by an Egyptian-born American in 1990.
In late May, “price tag” graffiti was sprayed on a wall in the northern Israeli Arab village of ‘Ara, along with ‘regards’ from far-right activists barred from the West Bank. The term “price tag” has been associated with attacks ostensibly carried out in retaliation for Israeli policies that are seen as unfriendly to radical settlers.
Also in May, a tractor was set ablaze and graffiti reading “revenge” was sprayed on a wall in the Palestinian village of Burin, near Nablus, in the northern West Bank, while tires were slashed and “price tag” graffiti was sprayed near the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shuafat and the Galilee village of Na’ura.