Two arrested over wave of Yokne’am hate crimes

Two arrested over wave of Yokne’am hate crimes

Police say men were apprehended for committing so-called 'price tag' attacks against Arab Israelis

Adiv Sterman is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of a price tag attack (Gershom Elinson/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a price tag attack (Gershom Elinson/Flash90)

Two men suspected of committing hate crimes against Arab Israelis and Palestinians were arrested Tuesday in connection with a recent spate of attacks in the lower Galilee city of Yokne’am.

The two suspects, aged 16 and 25, will be brought Wednesday before a court in Nazareth where police are expected to request they be kept in custody.

The pair are suspected of spray painting anti-Arab slogans and slashing car tires as part of a wave of so-called “price tag” attacks by Jewish extremists targeting Palestinians and the country’s non-Jewish citizens.

Both suspects are residents of northern Israel, near where the attacks took place, police said.

Also, police arrested four people in Jerusalem Tuesday on suspicion of attacking an Arab shop owner, Channel 2 news reported.

The four are accused of being part of a ring of Jewish extremists who used the messaging application Whatsapp to coordinate their activity.

Last week, police arrested two other suspects from northern Israel, aged 16 and 26, in connection with the Yokne’am attacks. Both of the suspects are expected to remain in police custody until Thursday.

One of the suspects admitted to vandalizing the offices of a Druze dentist, police said.

Earlier this month, the walls of a building in Yokne’am were spray-painted with the words “Death to Arabs” and “price tag.”

It was the second attack in three weeks targeting the office of Dr. Khatem Hatar, who hails from the Golan Heights village of Mas’ade.

In the previous incident, vandals spray-painted the words “price tag” and a Star of David on the walls.

Price tag refers to vandalism and other hate crimes usually carried out by Jewish ultra-nationalists in ostensible 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.

The vandalism in Yokne’am came after a spate of similar attacks in the north. In April, several mosques were vandalized and dozens of cars were found with slashed tires in several northern Arab-Israeli towns.

Although police have made scores of arrests, there have been nearly no successful prosecutions for price tag attacks, and the government has come under mounting pressure to authorize the Shin Bet internal security service to step in.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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