Palestinian cars torched in suspected settler hate crime
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Palestinian cars torched in suspected settler hate crime

50 vehicles reported burned in northern West Bank villages; spray-painted slogans appear to refer to restrictions at nearby settlement linked to violence

Palestinian men inspect a car that was burnt in a suspected hate crime in the northern West Bank village of Beit Dajan on November 22, 2019. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Palestinian men inspect a car that was burnt in a suspected hate crime in the northern West Bank village of Beit Dajan on November 22, 2019. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Cars were found torched Friday morning in a number of Palestinian villages in the West Bank in a suspected hate crime by Jewish settlers.

In addition to the burnt vehicles, Stars of David and other graffiti were discovered on buildings in the villages.

The acts of vandalism occurred in the northern West Bank villages of Qabalan, Beit Dajan, Majdal Bani Fadil and ad-Dik, the anti-racism group Tag Meir said.

Fifty cars in total were vandalized, according to the Walla news site.

Police said an investigation had been opened and that security forces were preparing to enter the villages to gather evidence.

The graffiti included the slogan “closed military area,” in apparent reference to military restrictions around the nearby settlement of Yitzhar.

“For how long will Jewish terrorists be treated with silk gloves,” Tag Meir wrote on its Facebook page.

A Palestinian man walks by Star of David graffiti spray-painted in a suspected hate crime in the northern West Bank village of Beit Dajan on November 22, 2019. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

The vandalism comes amid an increase in violence against Palestinians and Israeli security forces by hardline settler youths. Much of the recent violence has centered around Yitzhar.

Residents of Yitzhar said tensions between them and security forces began to rise last month when the head of the army’s Central Command signed off on an administrative order barring a resident of Kumi Ori, an outpost neighborhood of Yitzhar, from the West Bank. A defense official said Neria Zarog, 21, has been involved in violence against soldiers and Palestinians.

Neria Zarog attaches himself to a saw machine in Yitzhar to avoid arrest for violating an administrative order on November 10, 2019. (Honenu)

Zarog, who was arrested last month and ordered to abide by the administrative order barring him from the northern West Bank, denies the claim.

Vandalism against Palestinians and Israeli security forces are commonly referred to as “price tag” attacks, with their perpetrators claiming that they’re a retaliation for Palestinian violence or government policies seen as hostile to the settler movement.

Despite the dozens of hate crimes targeting Palestinians and their property over the past year, arrests of perpetrators have been exceedingly rare. Rights groups lament that convictions are even more unusual, with the majority of charges in such cases being dropped.

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