Palestinian vehicles sprayed with Hebrew graffiti in apparent hate crime
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Palestinian vehicles sprayed with Hebrew graffiti in apparent hate crime

Shin Bet said to step up efforts in the West Bank to rein in spate of attacks by Jewish extremists

Graffiti in Hebrew found on vehicles in the Palestinian town of Iskaka, near the West bank city of Nablus, on February 14, 2019. (B'Tselem)
Graffiti in Hebrew found on vehicles in the Palestinian town of Iskaka, near the West bank city of Nablus, on February 14, 2019. (B'Tselem)

Police on Thursday opened an investigation into an apparent hate crime targeting a Palestinian town in the northern West Bank, as Israeli authorities reportedly attempted to crack down on a growing number of attacks attributed to Jewish extremists.

Residents of Iskaka, outside the West bank city of Nablus, on Thursday morning discovered some 20 cars spray-painted with the Hebrew phrase “Traitors cover up terror attacks.” Other vehicles were daubed with the name of terror victim Ori Ansbacher, as well as those of Hadas Tapuhi and the Kaduri family, whose families charge they were victims of Palestinian terrorism.

Ansbacher, 19, was raped and murdered in the Jerusalem forest last week in what authorities concluded was a terrorist attack.

Tapuchi was killed in a car crash in the central West Bank last month, and members of her family and home settlement of Ateret maintain that she was the victim of a Palestinian rock-throwing attack. Israeli authorities investigated the circumstances of the crash, but have found no evidence Tapuchi, who hit the oncoming vehicle, did so due to rock-throwing.

Family and friends of the Kaduris — a couple from Jerusalem found stabbed to death in their Jerusalem home in December — have also insisted the double homicide was a terror attack, though police have not indicated the violence was perpetrated by Palestinians.

Graffiti on mosque in Palestinian West Bank village of Deir Dibwan in suspected hate crime, February 4, 2019 (Deir Dibwan local council)

Police said they opened an investigation into the graffiti found in Iskaka.

The apparent hate crime targeting Palestinians in the West Bank on Thursday was the third incident reported this month.

Last week, residents of Deir Dibwan woke up to find Stars of David and Hebrew slogans spray painted around their town, including “Here people incite to murder Jews” and “The Jewish nation lives.”

Days earlier, eight cars were vandalized with Stars of David and Hebrew slogans in the northern Palestinian town of Luban a-Sharqiya.

Israeli authorities opened probes into both incidents, but as with to nearly every other hate crime targeting West Bank Palestinians, no arrests have been made.

In December, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs released a report that showed a 69 percent increase in settler attacks on Palestinians in 2018 compared to 2017.

Ori Ansbacher (Courtesy)

OCHA recorded 265 incidents in which Israeli residents of the West Bank allegedly targeted Palestinians or their property. In total, 115 Palestinians were injured in those attacks and 7,900 trees and 540 vehicles were destroyed in so-called “price tag” attacks.

Price tag attacks is the name used by far-right Israelis to justify targeting Palestinians and IDF soldiers in ostensible retaliation for terror attacks and Israeli government actions deemed hostile to the settler movement.

The Shin Bet security service is reportedly concerned that Ansbacher’s murder will fuel a further surge in price tag attacks by Jewish extremists. The Ynet news site reported Thursday that the agency is monitoring activity in several settlements, including the hard-line Yitzhar.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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