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Jewish hate crime suspected in northern Arab Israeli town

Tires slashed on 21 vehicles in Jisr az-Zarqa; graffiti sprayed on wall links attack to recent demolition of structures in Yitzhar settlement

Hate crime graffiti found in the northern Arab Israeli town of Jisr az-Zarka, July 31, 2019. (Israel Police)
Hate crime graffiti found in the northern Arab Israeli town of Jisr az-Zarka, July 31, 2019. (Israel Police)

Police opened an investigation into a suspected hate crime Wednesday after vehicles were vandalized in a northern Arab Israeli town, in the second such attack on an Arab Israeli community in days.

Tires were slashed on 21 vehicles in Jisr az-Zarqa, police said in a statement.

Graffiti daubed on a wall referenced a West Bank settlement where Israeli authorities earlier this week tore down several illegal structures.

The graffiti declared, “The hill at Yitzhar — we won’t forget and we won’t forgive.”

Police said that forensic teams went to the scene to gather evidence and that detectives opened a probe into the incident.

Security forces on Monday demolished several illegal structures in the northern West Bank settlement of Yitzhar. In clashes with police, protesters reportedly slashed the tires of several police vehicles and a border policeman was lightly injured as demonstrators pelted security forces with rocks.

On Sunday vandals damaged several trucks and spray-painted Hebrew hate messages such as “Death to Arabs” in the central Arab Israeli town of Kafr Qassem.

Some of the trucks had their tires slashed and others had their windshields smashed, police said at the time. Graffiti messages daubed on the vehicles as well as on adjacent walls included the slogans “End assimilation,” “Racism or assimilation” and “The nation of Israel lives.”

Attacks on Arab Israeli towns in the context of the hate crimes have been rare compared to attacks that regularly target Palestinian villages in the West Bank, where suspects are almost never apprehended by police.

The incidents, often referred to as price tag attacks, are usually limited to arson and graffiti but have sometimes included physical assaults and even murder.

Earlier this month Channel 12 reported there has been a massive increase in the number of annual hate crimes against Palestinians. In 2016 there were 52 such incidents, in 2017 the number rose to 75, and in 2018 there was a jump to 205 attacks.

However, a security source noted that so far, 2019 has showed a drop in the number of hate crimes. The television report did not give a total for the year so far.

The source identified the settlement of Yitzhar as a main source of trouble, with it and its surrounding outposts often linked to attacks on Palestinians and their property.

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