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Police Chief: We are determined to make arrests in 'price tag' attacks
By BEN HARTMAN,Lidar Gravé-Lazi
05/01/2014
Statement comes following criticism of US State Department that accused Israel of failing to prosecute attacks by Jewish extremists.
 
In the wake of repeated "Price Tag" nationalist attacks by Jewish extremists on Arab property within the Green Line, National Police Commissioner Yochanan Danino said Thursday that police have stepped up their determination to make arrests and to stop these "explosive" attacks. 

"The severity of nationalist crimes that have occurred recently is obvious and they can potentially have an explosive influence on the sensitive relations between the different populations in Israel," Danino said.

He added "therefore the Israel Police have stepped up our enforcement efforts and are determined to solve these crimes and make arrests. I am convinced there will be results in the near future."

Danino's comments came after police arrested a number of suspects Wednesday in the West Bank suspected of carrying out a Price Tag attack in Umm al-Fahm in April during which a local mosque was vandalized.

That incident was the latest in a series of such nationalist crimes within the Green Line, including the vandalism of a mosque in the Arab-Israeli town of Fureidis late Monday night. That crime led to condemnations from a series of Israeli leaders and was followed by a general strike called by locals to protest the vandalism. 

Meanwhile Education Minister Shai Piron announced on Thursday that the ministry would allocate NIS one million to increase dialogue and coexistence sessions between Jewish and Arab students.

The minister made the announcement during his visit to Fureidis, on Thursday in the wake of the recent 'price tag' attacks.

During his visit, the minister met with Mayor Yunis Marii and with Jewish and Arab high school students.

“We came here today to say that we will not allow the existence of a distorted reality in Israel, of a violation of sacred sites,” said Piron.

Piron condemned the attacks, which he deemed as "improper and criminal acts," and said the only way to counter them was through meetings of "coexistence and friendship."

He added that there are leaders who “need to do some soul searching,” because they have yet to condemn the attacks.  Piron called on all Israeli leaders to condemn the price tag attacks in the "harshest and most obvious way."

On Wednesday the US State Department criticized Israel in its report on global terrorism in 2013 where it said that attacks by “extremist Jewish settlers” against Palestinians in the West Bank were “largely unprosecuted.” 

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 on Wednesday. The police are working around the clock on this issue, he said.

Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.

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