Inflammatory phrases and racial slurs directed at Arab-Israelis as well as Balad MK Hanin Zoabi were spray-painted across walls in a Haifa school Thursday, in what police suspected as another “price tag” hate crime attack.
The words “price tag” and “Death to Arabs” were found inscribed at the site — an Arab-Israeli school — as were slanders against Zoabi, Channel 2 reported. Police were also investigating whether the perpetrators of the act attempted to torch the building, as several burn marks were found on the school’s walls.
“Price tag” refers to vandalism and other hate crimes usually carried out by Jewish ultra-nationalists in retaliation for government policies against the settler movement. Mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases have been targeted by nationalist vandals in recent years. The acts have been condemned by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum.
Zoabi stirred up controversy on Tuesday when she stated that the kidnappers of three Israeli teens in the West Bank last week were not terrorists. Eyal Yifrach, 19, Naftali Frankel, 16, and Gil-ad Shaar, 16, were kidnapped late last Thursday night south of Jerusalem. They were last seen at a hitchhiking post in the Etzion Bloc at around 10 p.m. The Israeli government has pointed a finger at Hamas and said that it holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for their well-being.
“[They] are not terrorists,” Zoabi said of the kidnappers during an interview on Tel Aviv Radio. “[They] are people who do not see any way of changing their situation and they have to resort to these measures until Israel sobers up a bit, until the citizens of Israel and the public sober up and relate to the suffering of others.”
Zoabi later clarified in an interview on Israel Radio that she does “not support the kidnappers, but [kidnapping] is the result of frustration.
“You ask about mothers; ask me about the mothers of prisoners, ask about prisoners who are being held without trial, without being guilty,” she said.
On Thursday morning, Zoabi said that if the teens were killed by their captors, that would qualify as terrorism.
“Murder is terrorism,” she said. “It is illegitimate and should never be repeated, but the State of Israel is the one that led us to this event.”
MKs sought to bar Zoabi from running for the Knesset in the 2013 elections, in part because she participated in the Mavi Marmara flotilla that sought to break Israel’s security blockade on Gaza, but they were overruled by the Supreme Court.