Following a six-week lull in nationalistically motivated vandalism against Arab
communities by Jewish extremists, the tires of six cars were slashed and four
other vehicles vandalized in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Safafa in
an apparent “price-tag attack” early Tuesday morning.
according to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, the words “price tag” and “death
to Arabs” were spray-painted on nearby walls.
“It seems it’s a criminal
incident with nationalistic motives,” said Rosenfeld on Tuesday afternoon.
“We’re continuing to search for the suspects and hope to make arrests
Residents of Beit Safafa said they were not hopeful about the
prospect of any arrests.
“This is ridiculous,” said one middle-aged man,
who requested anonymity. “If this happened in a Jewish neighborhood, there would
be arrests in less than a day. But in Arab neighborhoods no arrests are ever
Aaban, who requested that his last name not be published,
expressed exacerbation over the perceived lack of parity in law enforcement in
Arab and Jewish communities.
“Look, the government can say all it wants
that it will stop [price-tag attacks], but it is a lie,” he said. “Jews have
much more protection in Jerusalem than Arabs. If you don’t believe me, just look
in the newspapers.”
Price tag vandalism had ebbed since June, when
extremists slashed more than 20 tires in Beit Hanina, 28 cars were vandalized
and homes spray-painted with racist graffiti in Abu Ghosh and two cars were set
ablaze in Sheikh Jarrah.
The preceding month, five vehicles parked on one
of the main streets in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Gilo were vandalized
in an alleged price-tag attack.
More than 180 nationalistic crimes
against Arabs have taken place since January, versus 200 in all of 2012, records
In May, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, Public Security Minister
Yitzhak Aharonovitch and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein held an emergency
meeting to discuss the growing problem with representatives from the IDF, the
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the State Attorney’s office.
June, shortly after the attack in Beit Hanina, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
denounced the phenomenon, stating that the government will “act with a strong
hand against” such attacks in the future.
Meretz councilman Dr. Meir
Margalit, who holds the east Jerusalem portfolio, said on Tuesday that he and
his constituents are dissatisfied with the response of both the government and
“This is something that happens every day in Jerusalem, even
if the news doesn’t cover it,” he said. “It has become routine in Jerusalem,
especially in the Christian Quarter.”
According to Margalit, police
reaction to such crimes is decidedly ineffective.
“The police know this
happens almost every day and [they] have cameras everywhere but never arrest the
people responsible for the attacks,” he added. “I don’t know what worries me
more – the fact that this is happening or that the police are not making
Margalit said his primary concern is that leaders within the
capital’s security establishment are not making substantive efforts to curtail
the pattern, despite rhetoric indicating otherwise.
“The fact is that
this happens again and again, many times in the same places,” he
“My academic background is in history and I remember studying
19th-century pogroms in Russia, where the hooligans used to say, ‘The government
is with us.’ I have a feeling that the Jewish hooligans doing this in east
Jerusalem think the police are ‘with them,’ and they are not afraid of being
Rosenfeld refuted Margalit’s assertion. Within the
Israeli police force, “there are hundreds of Muslim and Christian police
officers who serve different communities,” he said. “There is no differentiation
in any crime within any community.”
Rosenfeld pointed out that
Arabic-speaking officers are frequently assigned to east Jerusalem neighborhoods
subjected to crime in order to help expedite an arrest.
“Every crime is
dealt with seriously and with sensitivity, no matter which neighborhood it
happens in,” he said.