Police probe hate crime after cars, buildings vandalized in Arab Israeli town

Graffiti in Manshiya Zabda, near Haifa, declares ‘Muhammad is a pig’ and ‘Arabs are enemies, expel or kill.’ Authorities say they’ll use all means to bring perpetrators to justice

A vandalized building in the Arab Israeli town of Manshiya Zabda, December 12, 2019. The graffiti says: 'Arabs are enemies, expel or kill' (Israel Police)
A vandalized building in the Arab Israeli town of Manshiya Zabda, December 12, 2019. The graffiti says: 'Arabs are enemies, expel or kill' (Israel Police)

Police in northern Israel opened a hate crime investigation Thursday morning after cars and buildings were vandalized in an Arab village near Haifa.

Some 20 cars in the village of Manshiya Zabda had their tires slashed overnight and Hebrew-language anti-Arab graffiti was found sprayed on the walls of buildings.

One declared: “Muhammad is a pig”; another said: “Arabs are enemies, expel or kill.” Stars of David were also spray painted on a building and on a car.

Police said they were investigating and condemned “any nationalistic hate crime.” They vowed to use all means to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Local Imam Sheikh Ali Balal told the Haaretz newspaper that “the entire community is feeling angry and frustrated.”

“We’re a very small community. We’ve never had such an incident. We have a great relationship with our neighbors… We hope they’ll get to the criminals quickly and bring them to justice.

Anti-Arab vandalism by Jewish extremists has become a common occurrence in the West Bank but is rare inside Israel proper. Vandalism against Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the West Bank is commonly referred to as “price tag” attacks, with perpetrators claiming that it is retaliation for Palestinian violence or government policies seen as hostile to the settler movement.

A car targeted in a price tag attack in the northern West Bank Palestinian village of Yasuf on June 5, 2019. (Israel Police)

According to human rights organizations, investigations into the so-called price tag attacks rarely yield an arrest or indictment, leading to accusations of systemic racism against Palestinians.

On Monday police said around 160 vehicles were vandalized in a suspected anti-Arab hate crime in the Shuafat neighborhood in East Jerusalem.

Tires were slashed on vehicles and graffiti sprayed on walls including the phrase “When Jews are stabbed, do not stay silent.”

Police said it was believed that several masked suspects took advantage of the darkness as well as stormy weather conditions to carry out the attack.

Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Lion condemned the incident, calling it a “hate crime,” and asked police do everything they could to catch the perpetrators.

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