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Photo by: TOVAH LAZAROFF
Jews, Muslims, Christians rally in Jerusalem against price tag attacks
By TOVAH LAZAROFF
22/12/2013
Grassroots organization calls price tags attacks "cancer," urges gov't to classify attacks as acts of terrorism.
 




“Price-tag” attacks must be classified as acts of terrorism, said a small group of Israeli Jews and Arabs as they jointly rallied Sunday morning in front of the Prime Minister’s Office during the weekly cabinet meeting, in hopes of swaying the government to further clamp down on such incidents.

“We are here across from the PM to call for him and the government to stop the price tag attacks. It can’t be that for four years Jewish terror cells have run amuck in the state of Israel without being disturbed,” said Gadi Gvaryahu, who heads the grassroots organizations Tag Meir, that combats Price Tag attacks.

According to informal numbers collected by Tag Meir, there have been at least 176 incidents in the last three years in which Jewish extremists have targeted Arab or Christian property including mosques and churches on both sides of the pre-1967 lines, and in some cases, executed personal attacks. Migrants have also been targeted, according to Tag Meir.

Gvaryahu added that these numbers are very low, because many incidents are unreported or not formally characterized as price tag attacks.

“You have to destroy the rotos of these organizations and to declare them terrorist organizations in every way,” said Ibrahim Wassil, the deputy head of the Israeli Arab city of Baka al-Gharbiyye near Hadera.

Earlier this month, vandals, assumed to be Jewish extremists, sprayed graffiti such as “Mohammed is a pig” on the walls of a mosque in Baka al-Gharbiyye.

“We have come here across from the Prime Minister’s Office and across from the decision makers to make our voice heard,” said Wassil as he read from a prepared statement.

Price tag attacks are a cancer that is growing in Israel society, he said, as he urged Netanyahu to say “yes” to democracy and peace by bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Ahmed Milchem, who heads the Popular Council in Wadi Arra said the Bakka al-Gharbiyya was part of an alarming escalation in which attacks were now taking places in cities instead of isolated villages. There is no reason to refrain from classifying these attacks as acts of terror, he said.



“If I had gone into Hadera and done this kind of thing, they would have caught me in five or six hours and declared that I was a terrorist,” said Milchem.

In June, the Security Cabinet declared price tag perpetrators to be an “illegal association” and strengthened the ability of law enforcement to act against them. But it failed to legally classify the attacks as terrorism.

The issue of price tag attacks was not on the cabinet’s agenda on Sunday. But the rally was organized together with the Public Forum to Protect the Holy Places in the Land of the Prophets, out of concern that the situation is spiraling out of control.

The attackers are brasher and the public is becoming apathetic, said Gvaryahu. He noted that the scant attention was paid to two attacks that occurred in December.

Gvaryahu said just this month that 40 cars were vandalized in the Israeli Arab village of Akbara, which is connected to the city of Safed. Among the slogans were the words, “Arabs out.”

In the West Bank, a Palestinian home in the village of Sinjil was set on fire, sending five children to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

On Sunday morning at the Jerusalem rally, the small group of Jews, Muslims and Christians held painted signs with the names of villages that had been attacked and applauded the speakers.

Gvaryahu said the rally was just the first of what would be a number of collaborative Jewish, Muslim and Christian events to place the issue back on the public agenda.
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