Police arrest four Jewish teens for ‘price tag’ attack in northern Israel

Suspects, all around 15 years old, allegedly punctured tires and spray-painted slogans on 20 cars in the village of Yafia, near Nazareth, in October

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

The word "revenge" spray-painted on the wall of a home in the northern Arab Israeli town of Yafia on October 26, 2018. (Israel Police)
The word "revenge" spray-painted on the wall of a home in the northern Arab Israeli town of Yafia on October 26, 2018. (Israel Police)

Police on Wednesday arrested four Israeli teenagers suspected of slashing tires and drawing hate slogans on homes in the northern Israeli Arab town of Yafia, near Nazareth, a month and a half ago.

In the apparent hate crime on October 26, some 20 cars had their tires punctured and were spray-painted with Jewish stars and words such as “revenge” and “price tag,” a slogan that has been used in recent years by far-right Israelis to justify their attacks on Palestinians. It marks the attacks as ostensible retaliation for terror attacks and Israeli government actions deemed hostile to the settler movement.

Mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases have been targeted by such nationalist vandals in recent years.

The attack may have been a response to a violent attack on an Israeli Jew in Yafia on September 28.

A spokesman for the right-wing legal aid organization Honenu, which defends right-wing extremists in courts and the media, said the suspects were all around 15 years old.

Police said Wednesday that the youths were arrested at a yeshiva, or Jewish religious seminary, in the north of the country, but would not say which one.

Following the October incident, the Yafia Local Council released a statement condemning the crime and “calling on all reasonable people in Jewish society to raise their voices against these heinous acts. The fascism that starts with [attacks on] Arabs will continue until [attacks on] the reasonable members of Jewish society. Enough with racism!”

Wednesday’s arrests were among the first arrests made by police in months despite a recent wave of price tag attacks. The vast majority of such crimes have taken place in the West Bank and, in those cases, police have yet to make an arrest.

Police said they would seek an extended remand for the suspects.

The most recent price tag attack was reported Tuesday morning, as dozens of Palestinian vehicles were vandalized overnight in the northern West Bank town of Beitin. Stars of David were graffitied on vehicles, as well as messages saying, “I can’t sleep when blood is spilled here” and “We don’t sleep when God’s name is being desecrated.”

Similar attacks were reported last week in the central Israeli Arab town of Kafr Kassem and in the West Bank Palestinian village of Jab’a, southwest of Bethlehem

Tires were slashed and slogans were also painted in the Palestinian village of al-Mughayir in the central West Bank in late November, as well as in Asira al-Qibliya, near Nablus, and in nearby Hawara. In mid-November, Palestinian residents of Urif in the northern West Bank woke up to find a car torched and Hebrew graffiti spray-painted on the walls of a building.

In October, a Palestinian mother of eight, Aisha Rabi, was killed when a rock the size of a large tissue box flew through the windshield of the car her husband was driving and struck her head. Israeli security services have said investigators are increasingly convinced Israeli Jewish extremists were responsible for the deadly attack.

Also in October, police launched an investigation into an apparent hate crime at a Christian cemetery belonging to the Beit Jamal Monastery in Beit Shemesh, where some 30 cross headstones were found vandalized. Monks who visit the graveyard every few days discovered the damage and reported the incident to Israeli authorities. It was the latest in a series of attacks against the monastery by suspected Jewish extremists over the past two years.

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