Three arrested for suspected vandalism against Palestinians following terror attack

Two minors, one adult detained for alleged hate crimes including damaging vehicles, spray-painting walls and cutting down olive trees

Palestinian farmers inspect damage to their olive trees that were cut down by attackers in the West Bank village of al-Lubban al-Sharqiah, near Nablus, March 30, 2022. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Palestinian farmers inspect damage to their olive trees that were cut down by attackers in the West Bank village of al-Lubban al-Sharqiah, near Nablus, March 30, 2022. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Police on Wednesday arrested three settlers suspected of vandalizing Palestinian vehicles and spray-painting walls overnight in the Palestinian villages of Marda and Asira al-Qibliya in the northern West Bank.

The suspects include two minors and one adult, police said, noting they were all residents of the West Bank and that unspecified “findings” were found in their cars.

Some of the slogans spray-painted in the Palestinian villages read, “Jewish blood will not be forsaken.”

Pictures shared on Twitter showed several cars with their windows shattered.

Police said an investigation has been launched into the suspected hate crimes.

Also, in the nearby village of Al-Lubban ash-Sharqiya, over 100 olive trees belonging to Palestinians were cut down, according to a report by the Yesh Din rights organization.

The incidents followed a deadly shooting spree in the city of Bnei Brak, hours earlier, carried out by 27-year-old Palestinian Diaa Hamarsheh from the northern West Bank village of Ya’abad, who killed four civilians and one police officer before dying in a shootout with police.

Media reports said there were celebrations outside his home and in other Palestinian cities after news of the attack broke.

In Bnei Brak, angry locals gathered at the site of the shooting, chanting anti-Arab slogans, overturning a vehicle and surrounding Public Security Minister Omer Barlev, who needed to be spirited away by police.

The crowd chanted “Death to Arabs” and “Revenge” at the scene of the attack.

The demonstrators, including several right-wing politicians, verbally harassed the minister — with some denouncing him loudly as a “traitor” — and trying to get closer to him. Police managed to keep them at a distance before pulling him from the area.

Despite their anger, Barlev, whose office oversees police, vowed Israel would not be deterred in its fight against terror.

Minister of Public Security Omer Barlev seen at the scene of a terrorist attack in Bnei Brak, March 29, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

“It’s a difficult night for Israel. Our hearts break for the families of those murdered and injured in this terrible attack. We will continue to battle with all our might until the terror is subdued,” Barlev said at the scene.

“The State of Israel will stand strong in the face of this new wave of terror, as we did in the past. We will use all the means at our disposal and operate in all areas in order to bring back security and quiet,” he added.

Following the deadly attack, the third in a week, police ordered officers onto heightened alert. The army said it would beef up troop presence along the West Bank’s border with Israel, and cities announced they would shut down construction sites in order to keep Palestinian laborers away.

In addition to the settler arrests, police also said they were cracking down on illegal entries into the country from the West Bank and reinforcing forces positioned on main roads in the area.

Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, March 29, 2022. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

Some 49 Palestinians in Israel illegally have been detained and taken in for questioning as of Wednesday afternoon, police said. In addition, police detained three business owners suspected of employing illegal aliens and four other individuals suspected of providing illegal aliens with transportation.

In a statement, police urged the public to only hire workers with valid work and entry permits and to report any suspicious activity.

“Israel is facing a wave of murderous Arab terrorism,” Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said following Tuesday’s attack. “My heart is with the families who have lost their loved ones this evening. I am praying for the recovery of the wounded.”

“The security forces are at work. We will fight terrorism with persistence, diligence and an iron fist,” Bennett said. “They will not move us from here. We will prevail.”

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