Attacks by “extremist Jewish settlers” against Palestinians in the West Bank were “largely unprosecuted,” the US said on Wednesday in its State Department report on global terrorism in 2013.
It focused a small section of its report on violence by Israeli extremists against Palestinians, Israeli Arabs and Christians on both sides of the pre-1967 lines.
In the West Bank there were 399 attacks by Israeli extremists which resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage. As part of these attacks, five mosques and three churches were vandalized, including in Jerusalem, the report said. It based its data on reports by the United Nations and nongovernmental groups.
It noted that in 2013, revenge attacks, known as price-tag attacks, in which Jewish extremists acted violently against Palestinian and Christian targets were no longer just a West Bank phenomenon.
Some of the price-tag incidents it listed included damage done in July of 2013 in a Christian Orthodox cemetery in Jaffa, where the words “revenge” and “price tag” were scrawled on the gravestones. In August of that year, the Beit Jamal Monastery near Jerusalem was firebombed and spray-painted with the words “death to the Gentiles” and other slogans, according to the report.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld took issue with the report’s insinuation that security forces have failed to act against Jewish extremists. Police operations against price-tag attacks have increased and each district has a specific unit devoted to investigating these attacks, he said. “These units did not exist two years ago,” he said. The police are working around the clock on this issue, he said.
The US State Department did note that Israel’s police force had a new unit to investigate these crimes. In addition, perpetrators of price-tag attacks were now classified as belonging to “illegal associations,” the report said. It explained that the new classification gives security forces more legal authority to collect information about price-tag attackers and to seize their property.
Separately, the report spoke of terror activity against Israelis, noting that six of the country’s citizens were killed in terror attacks in 2013. The report quoted statistics from the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) which state that in 2013 there were 1,271 terror attacks against Israelis which originated in the West Bank. Out of those, 858 incidents involved firebombs. Other weapons used in attacks against Israel included stabbings, shootings and grenades.