Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) officials met with rabbis and educators from the religious-Zionist community on Sunday as part of an effort to reduce the number of hate crimes perpetrated by extremist settler youth.
According to a report on Kan News, officials involved in the meeting underlined the importance of countering what was described as a “growing problem,” although the identity of the rabbis and educators involved in the meeting was not disclosed.
There have been several reports recently of increased incidents of vandalism and so-called price-tag attacks by extremist elements in the settlement community, particularly in the Gush Etzion region.
According to locals, radical youth from the Kumi Ori illegal outpost near Yitzhar in Samaria which was recently evacuated have taken up residence in Bat Ayin in Gush Etzion.
There has been an increase in vandalism and violent attacks since the extremist youths moved to Bat Ayin six weeks ago, said Eliaz Cohen, an anti-extremism activist and member of the Kibbutz Kfar Etzion in Gush Etzion close to Bat Ayin.
The youths likely harassed Palestinian olive pickers from the villages of Nahalin and Surif, he said.
Three weeks ago vandals attacked Jaba, which Cohen described as one of the most peaceful Palestinian villages in the region. Cars and homes were vandalized, and “Kumi Ori” spray painted on the buildings there, he said.
There were also two recent incidents in which Arab drivers of Egged buses who entered Bat Ayin were attacked by the Jewish extremists, including one incident in which a driver was sprayed with pepper spray.
Cohen said that the most severe incidents were when youths threw stones at moving vehicles coming in and out of Jaba last Friday and Saturday.
Coexistence activist Shivi Frohman, the son of the late champion of coexistence Rabbi Menachem Frohman, who lives in Tekoa in the eastern sector of Gush Etzion, said that the increase in tensions and incidents in recent weeks has been noticeable.
Settlers and local Palestinians remain in touch with each other, he said.
“We must stop attacks from our side. If people carry out hate crimes and instill fear in the Arab population just because they are Arab, this defiles the land and reduces our merit to be in the land,” said Frohman.
He noted however that there are also frequent stone throwing incidents by Palestinians which he says “cannot be ignored,” and must be addressed too.Jerusalem Post Staff contributed to this article.