2 settler youth detained after apparent hate crime attack in northern West Bank

Police say pair being questioned in connection with recent actions targeting Palestinian villages

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Palestinian cars torched in an apparent hate crime in the northern West Bank town of Urif on July 13, 2018. (Courtesy)
Palestinian cars torched in an apparent hate crime in the northern West Bank town of Urif on July 13, 2018. (Courtesy)

Two settler youth were arrested at an illegal outpost in the northern West Bank Friday, hours after an apparent hate crime attack was reported in a neighboring Palestinian village.

A police spokeswoman declined to say whether the pair were connected to the incident in Urif, where two cars were torched and a Star of David was graffitied on a nearby wall next to the Arabic phrase “be careful.”

The spokeswoman said the pair were detained at the Kumi Uri outpost near the Yitzhar settlement, in connection with recent hate crimes targeting Palestinians in the area.

The area around Yitzhar has seen a series of alleged hate crimes in recent months, with the Israeli security establishment viewing the settlement as the source of the so-called “price tag” attacks.

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“Price tag” refers to vandalism and other hate crimes carried out by Jewish ultra-nationalists, ostensibly in retaliation for Palestinian violence or government policies perceived as hostile to the settler movement. Palestinian olive groves, mosques and churches have been targeted by far-right vandals in recent years, as have dovish Israeli rights groups and even IDF military bases.

Last week, Palestinians in the northern West Bank village of Burin accused settlers of starting fires in their fields. Residents told the Yesh Din rights group that IDF troops prevented them from reaching the fields in order to extinguish the fires.

For their part, residents in Yitzhar accused Palestinians from Urif of starting a fire outside the settlement that approached homes in the western part of the community.

Last month, police opened an investigation after two cars in Urif had their tires slashed and Hebrew hate slogans were found spray-painted on a number of buildings.

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