Progress made in investigation of Price Tag attacks

Minister of public security expects arrests soon, says suspects are extremist, right-wing Jews from West Bank settlements

Illustrative photo of a price tag attack, on August 27, 2013 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a price tag attack, on August 27, 2013 (photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Authorities have made progress in their investigation of the recent spate of Price Tag attacks that have struck several locales in northern Israel in recent days, Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch said Thursday. Arrests are likely to be made sometime in the next few days, which will lead to indictments, he told Channel 2.

According to the police, he added, the suspects are “extremist, right-wing Jews” from West Bank settlements — “individual activists” who do not represent an organized group.

Aharonovitch also stated that he would continue to work to have Price Tag vandalism officially defined as an act of terror.

The phrase “Price Tag” is used by a small group of Jewish extremists to protest what they perceive as the Israeli government’s pro-Palestinian policies. Mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases have been targeted by nationalist vandals in recent years. The acts have been condemned by Israeli leaders across the political spectrum.

This week saw a spate of attacks over a two-day period. In the Arab town of Fureidis, residents on Tuesday woke up to a vandalized mosque and dozens of car tires slashed. Residents held a demonstration on Tuesday night against the vandalism and President Shimon Peres spoke with Yonis Meree, the head of the Fureidis local council, to apologize for the attack.

The violence continued Wednesday, with vandals slashing the tires of a vehicle belonging to an Arab contractor parked in the northern city of Yokne’am and daubing it with the Price Tag slogan and a Star of David.

Knesset opposition head Isaac Herzog (Labor), in a visit to Fureidis on Wednesday, said that the attacks against the Arab population are terrorism and are opposed by the whole of Israeli society.

“I came here today not as the opposition or the coalition, but because all of the Israeli people are appalled and outraged at the terrible and unacceptable Price Tag phenomenon,” Herzog said as he viewed first-hand the damage in Fureidis and spoke with local residents.

“It is terror. I say that to the legal system and to anyone who is trying to fan the flames on the basis of religious belief.”

MK Ahmad Tibi (Ra’am-Ta’al) said Wednesday he intends to introduce new legislation that will allow Price Tag victims to be compensated by the state as terror victims, Israel Radio reported.

Yokne’am has seen a spate of the attacks in recent days.

On Sunday, a vehicle belonging to an Arab contractor was defaced in the Lower Galilee city and the words “Price Tag” — accompanied by a picture of a Star of David — were etched on its exterior. Two of the vehicle’s tires were slashed as well. On the same day an Acre school was vandalized, with the words “Death to Arabs” and graffiti against the school’s administration spray-painted across a wall in the building.

Stuart Weiner and AP contributed to this report.

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