One of the 20 vehicles found vandalized in east Jerusalem on May 9.
(photo credit: POLICE SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) was aware of the identities and presence of the nine members of the so-called “Hilltop Youth” arrested in Jerusalem on June 12, following a series of pricetag attacks carried out in the capital.
According to police, the teens were arrested in the home of Elkana Pikar, 32, formerly a resident of Yitzhar, who was barred from the West Bank under an administrative order after the Shin Bet determined he posed a serious security danger.
Pikar, who said he was employing the teens, relocated to the capital’s Kiryat Moshe neighborhood.
While he confessed to housing the youth, he denied he incited any of them to violence.
While living with Pikar, the teens are accused of numerous price-tag attacks in the capital that took place over the last few weeks, including slashing the tires of Arab vehicles and spray-painting “Revenge,” “Kahane was right,” and “Price tag” on vehicles and nearby structures.
“Price-tag attacks” are acts of vandalism or arson generally associated with Jewish fundamentalist settler youth who target Palestinians, Israeli Arabs, left-wing Israeli Jews, or security forces who obstruct settlement activity.
The last attack in the capital took place in Beit Safafa on June 10, where the tires of several cars were slashed and the words “Kahane was right” and “price tag” were spray-painted in blue on a nearby wall in the Arab neighborhood.
Kahane was the controversial founder of the Jewish Defense League, who was assassinated in New York City in 1990 by an Arab two years after his radical Kach Party was outlawed in Israel for inciting racism.
A few days before the Beit Safafa vandalism, at least five vehicles in the French Hill neighborhood were vandalized and spray-painted with anti-Arab graffiti.
“Death to Arabs” and “Revenge” were written in green paint across the side of two of the cars in the predominantly Jewish community, situated near the east Jerusalem neighborhoods of Shuafat and Isawiya.
And on May 9, more than two dozen vehicles and homes in Arab enclaves of east Jerusalem and the northern Galilee were also targeted in a spate of nationalist-motivated vandalism attributed to the teens.
According to the Shin Bet, approximately 20 vehicles had their tires slashed and were spray-painted with graffiti along the border separating the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo and the Arab neighborhood of Shuafat.
The nine teens remain in custody and Pikar is prohibited from communicating with them or several other extremists identified by the Shin Bet.
It remains unclear how the youths evaded detection from the Shin Bet during the course of their crime spree.