Cabinet stops short of defining price tag attacks as terror

Nationalistic vandalism to be classified as ‘unlawful association,’ giving Defense Ministry wider tools to investigate and prosecute attacks

Illustrative photo of a price tag attack, a form of Jewish incitement against Arabs (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a price tag attack, a form of Jewish incitement against Arabs (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

The Cabinet on Sunday evening approved measures that will make it easier for authorities to prosecute against “price tag” attacks, while at the same time rejecting calls to have them labeled as acts of terror.

The Cabinet decision authorized the Defense Ministry to classify “price tag” attacks, which usually involve property damage carried out by Jewish extremists against Arabs, as unlawful associations, under emergency regulations originally put in place by the British Mandate in 1945.

The ruling places the attacks in the same class as charities connected to terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad, among other things, and will enable defense officials to utilize more extensive investigative and legal tools in combating the vandalism.

The price tag term is used by extremist Jews to describe attacks carried out against Palestinians, the military and other targets as retribution for Israeli government decisions they perceive as being oriented against settlers.

The attacks, which usually involve graffiti or arson, are meant to exact a price for government actions the extremists oppose like outpost demolitions.

Last month, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (Hatnua) and Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich (Likud-Beytenu) presented a proposal to classify these attacks as terrorism, in order to increase the tools at police’s disposal in the battle against a rising number of attacks on non-Jewish targets including church properties, Israeli Arabs, and Palestinians in the West Bank.

According to Army Radio, though, the Cabinet did not want to lump attacks on human life together with attacks on damage.

Livni will continue to push forward legislation that would label price tag attacks as acts of terror, according to media reports.

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