Shock gripped the residents of Abu Ghosh on Tuesday as they discovered that
unknown persons had punctured the tires of 28 vehicles and spray-painted racist
graffiti in the village west of the capital.
It appeared to be one of the
most brazen “price tag” incidents ever.
The graffiti included the words
“Arabs go home” and “Racism or assimilation.”
Abu Ghosh has long been
known for its friendly relations with its Jewish neighbors and as a popular
weekend destination for Jewish and Arab families, who flock to the village’s
restaurants for its legendary humous. The apparent price-tag attack met with
sweeping condemnations across the political spectrum.
Binyamin Netanyahu condemned the vandalism as contrary to the values of Judaism.
“Just this week we approved decisions that will enable us to take strong action
against those who perpetrate such crimes, and we will do so with full force,” he
President Shimon Peres called the attack “racist behavior that
constitutes the crossing of a red line.”
The president called the
village’s council head Salim Jaber, who assured him that “this act done by a
small group will not change the ways of the people of Abu Ghosh, who love the
Jewish nation and the State of Israel.”
Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino, said police expect to make arrests soon, and
that the force has made cracking such cases a top priority.
impossible to downplay the severity of such incidents. The number of
indictments issued against these crimes in the past year is an all-time record,
but still too few and there is much work to be done,” he said.
later told Army Radio that “what people don’t understand is that it’s not the
spraying or the graffiti; this sort of act can spark conflict in Israel and
beyond it. This is why we place this high on our list of
David Pearl, head of the Gush Etzion Council, said he and
other residents of the West Bank settlement bloc would visit the village on
Wednesday morning to show solidarity with residents.
The security cabinet
on Sunday voted to begin considering perpetrators of price tags as guilty of
The Prime Minister’s Office said the decision “significantly expands the investigative and judicial tools
available to the security forces and law enforcement authorities against
socalled ‘price-tag’ actions.”
The decision came as the cabinet decided
against labeling price-tag incidents terrorist attacks.
Dib Ali Uthman, a
resident of Abu Ghosh, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that on Monday night
there was a fight in the village between Arab youths and young Jews who came
from outside. There was a disagreement and at one point the Arab youths threw
rocks at the Jews, he said. He added that he thinks the price-tag vandalism was
a response to this skirmish.
In 2012, police opened 623 criminal cases
regarding pricetag attacks, 200 people were arrested following such incidents
and 123 indictments were filed.
So far in 2013 there have been 165 cases,
76 arrests and 31 indictments, according to police.Herb Keinon
contributed to this report