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Settler gets 3 years for ‘price tag’ arson attack

Sentence is lengthiest ever given to a perpetrator convicted of vandalism against Palestinians

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of a vehicle that was allegedly torched by Israeli settlers in a 'price tag' attack, June 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a vehicle that was allegedly torched by Israeli settlers in a 'price tag' attack, June 2013. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A Jewish West Bank settler was sentenced to three years in prison Monday after being convicted in a  a racially motivated arson attack in a West Bank village in 2013.

The Lod District Court ruled the incident a “price tag” hate crime and additionally sentenced Binyamin Richter to 12 months probation and ordered he pay NIS 15,000 ($3,900) as compensation to the owners whose property was damaged in the attack.

Richter was the third defendant to be sentenced in connection with the incident. Last month, Yehuda Landsberg and Yehuda Savir, both residents of the illegal West Bank settlement of Havat Gilad, were sentenced to 30 months in prison and one year of probation for their involvement.

During questioning, Landsberg and Savir confessed to Shin Bet interrogators that they torched two cars in the West Bank village of Farata and vandalized nearby buildings with Stars of David graffiti.

Richter refused to cooperate and maintained his right to silence throughout the investigation.

In December, Landsberg and Savir entered into a plea bargain in exchange for a reduced sentence, and provided evidence of Richter’s involvement to investigators.

The sentences handed down to all three perpetrators of the price tag attack are the lengthiest ever given to individuals convicted of carrying out acts of vandalism against Palestinians.

All three, aged 22-25, were found guilty of racist incitement, conspiracy to commit a hate crime, arson and vandalism.

Illustrative photo of a price tag attack, a form of Jewish incitement against Arabs (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a price tag attack, a form of Jewish incitement against Arabs (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Hebrew media outlets reported that Landsberg and Richter have previously been associated with other violent acts against Palestinians.

According to the Shin Bet, the three sought to advance their ideological goals “at the cost of casting fear over government decisions and sowing terror among the Palestinian population,” according to a 2013 statement released by the intelligence agency.

Besides harming Palestinian property and people, the Shin Bet said in their statement the attacks also forced the intelligence organization to divert “considerable manpower” to the matter and caused “grave damage to Israel’s image in the international arena.”

Last month, over a dozen members of the extremist group Lehava were arrested in connection with a price tag arson attack on a bilingual Arabic-Hebrew school in November. Shortly after, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told Hebrew language media outlets that he was working to have the far right nationalist group classified as a terror organization and banning their operations in Israel.

While attacks targeting Palestinian property and holy sites are roundly condemned by Israeli politicians and religious leaders, security officials have often struggled to bring suspected perpetrators to trial.

Adiv Sterman and Mitch Ginsberg contributed to this report.

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