Shin Bet: Sharp rise in settler youth ‘price tag’ attacks against Palestinians
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Shin Bet: Sharp rise in settler youth ‘price tag’ attacks against Palestinians

In first 4 months of 2018, there were 13 cases of hate crimes carried out by ultra-nationalists against Palestinians

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

The phrase "price-tag" graffitied on the walls of a mosque in the northern West Bank village of Aqraba, remnants of an apparent hate crime arson attack on April 13, 2018. (Zacharia Sadeh/Rabbis for Human Rights)
The phrase "price-tag" graffitied on the walls of a mosque in the northern West Bank village of Aqraba, remnants of an apparent hate crime arson attack on April 13, 2018. (Zacharia Sadeh/Rabbis for Human Rights)

The Shin Bet security service released statistics Sunday showing far-right activists’ hate crimes against Palestinians have increased significantly since the beginning of 2018.

Through the first nearly four months of the current calendar year, the Shin Bet documented 13 so-called “price tag” attacks. This contrasts with only eight such incidents in the entirety of 2017.

“Price tag” refers to vandalism and other hate crimes carried out by Jewish ultra-nationalists ostensibly in retaliation for Palestinian violence or government policies perceived as hostile to the settler movement. Mosques, churches, dovish Israeli groups, and even Israeli military bases have been targeted by nationalist vandals in recent years.

Attacks characterized as “at least as serious as arson” are also on pace to eclipse those from last last year. So far in 2018, two such attacks have been carried out; while in 2017, the final tally for them was five, the Shin Bet said.

A car daubed with ‘administrative price tag’ in East Jerusalem, May 9, 2017. (Amar Arouri/B’Tselem)

However, while last year saw 105 indictments filed against the far-right activists, this year has seen only 23 so far.

The Shin Bet statistics showed that Israeli authorities have continued issuing administrative orders in response to the violence, largely carried out by young settlers known colloquially as hilltop youth due to their practice of setting up outposts on hilltops in the West Bank.

Administrative orders can include detention, bans from entering the entire West Bank, and bans on contacting certain individuals, as well as nightly curfews.

Sixty-three administrative orders were issued in 2017 by Israel Police. So far in 2018, only 13 such orders have been employed.

Earlier this month, vandals torched a mosque in the northern West Bank village of Aqraba in an apparent hate crime attack.

A Palestinian boy looks at a car which residents said was torched by alleged Jewish extremists, in Beit Ilu village near the West Bank city of Ramallah, on October 2, 2015. (Flash90/File)

Messages of “death,” “revenge” and “price tag” were found graffitied on the walls of the Sa’ada Mosque in the small Palestinian town of several hundred residents.

The week before several cars were vandalized in the northern West Bank village of Fara’ata, near Nablus, in another apparent price tag attack.

Photos of cars with smashed windshields and punctured tires were posted on Palestinian media. This was in addition to various graffiti slogans that were sprayed across walls in the area. Messages including “Stop administrative detentions” and “Administrative price tag” were scrawled on vehicles and buildings.

Last month, the Lod District Court handed down a five-year prison sentence to a settler teen convicted of membership in a terror organization, for carrying out a string of so-called “price-tag” attacks against Palestinians and their property.

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