A bus was affixed with racist graffiti and 16 cars were vandalized in an Arab village early Monday morning, in what police are deeming a “nationalistically motivated criminal act.”
The government defined these acts as “acts of terrorism,” or “price-tag attacks.”
The incident took place less than 24 hours after a haredi man was stabbed twice by an Arab, near Damascus Gate Sunday evening. The victim was treated for light injuries at an area hospital, then released.
According to police, Monday’s vandalism occurred before dawn in Ein Aluza, near Silwan (Jerusalem). The 16 cars all had their tires slashed and a nearby bus was spray-painted with the words “Enough Arab workers – enough assimilation!” Police are investigating the incident, but have yet to make any arrests, said spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.
Asked if he believed the price-tag attack was retaliation for the stabbing, Rosenfeld said police are investigating all possibilities, but stopped short of unequivocally declaring a direct connection.
Monday’s vandalism is the latest in an escalating pattern of similar attacks, which Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon designated a “terrorist act in every sense of the word,” following a January 8 incident, in which two Arab cars were set alight in the West Bank.
“We are acting – and will act against – its perpetrators with zero tolerance and with a stern and determined hand to eradicate it,” said Ya’alon hours after that attack.
Ya’alon said that while the country must take extreme action against Jewish extremists, he took pains to note that such deviants make up a fraction of the mainstream settlement community, whose members he described as loyal, law-abiding citizens.
“There’s no connection between these law breakers and the settlements and their decent residents,” the defense minister said.
“We will not allow marginal, extreme and violent groups to forcefully and illegally take control of properties that are not theirs, to threaten Palestinian residents who work their lands, [to perform] thuggish behavior on the ground, in a way that endangers public peace and that could spark a conflagration.”
To this end, Ya’alon said he would deploy “all available means” to deal with the farright elements behind nationalistically motivated crimes.
In response to Monday’s vandalism, east Jerusalem Portfolio head Meir Margalit (Meretz) said the cycle of violence has increasingly concerned him and his constituents and must be dealt with by a third party.
“This is one of the reasons we need the Kerry initiative and European involvement – or else all of us will collapse,” he said. “We cannot do it by ourselves, we need someone from the outside who will stop this crazy cycle of violence.”
Adding that “an eye for an eye leaves everyone blind,” Margalit said it is dangerous and futile to allow extremists, on both sides of the political spectrum, to define and escalate an already complex and emotional conflict.
“If we continue to attack in revenge, for violence, at the end of the day all of us will lose,” he said. “This is true for Palestinians and Israelis alike.”Tovah Lazaroff and Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.