PM: Israel 'not prepared to tolerate any vandalism'

Netanyahu to exert "fullest extent of the law" against perpetrators; Police chief calls attacks "extremely explosive phenomenon."

By JPOST.COM STAFF,
October 9, 2011 11:52
3 minute read.
PM Netanyahu in cabinet meeting

Cabinet meeting 09-10-11. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

 
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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said at a Sunday cabinet meeting that Israel "not prepared to tolerate any vandalism, especially that directed against religious sensitivities."

"Our tolerance is toward religious sensitivities and our need to continue living together in coexistence and mutual respect, without violence, in tranquility and peace. Our intolerance is directed toward those who oppose these practices and this way of life."

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Netanyahu's comments come in response to Saturday night's acts of vandalism in Jaffa, during which a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Rabbi Meir synagogue  hours after far-right-wing graffiti was reported to police in Muslim and Christian cemeteries in the area.

Netanyahu promised to exert the "fullest extent of the law" in pursuing the perpetrators.

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Police Commissioner Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino said Sunday morning that, "Price-tag incidents are serious and must be eradicated. Attacking religious symbols and holy places is an extremely explosive phenomenon that has implications for the general public of the country."

Danino instructed district commanders to map out sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian areas, and plans to meet with the Arab-Israeli leaders Monday to calm tensions. Saying he would work to prevent escalations, he emphasized the need to do "everything" to reach the incidents' perpetrators, collect evidence and file charges against them.

Danino's comments come in response to statements by several leaders Sunday morning criticizing law enforcement over the handling of "price-tag" vandalism. 

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni harshly criticized the Jaffa events alongside a string of similar incidents last week, calling on police to swiftly bring perpetrators to justice.

"Criminals [acting on] hate this last week are causing a dangerous degradation of Israeli society," Livni said.

"The country's law enforcement must act with urgency to find those responsible and bring them to justice...Community leaders must speak out clearly and unanimously and clarify that such actions are contrary to Israeli values and the religious values of those who commit them."

Tel Aviv-Jaffa Mayor Ron Huldai criticized the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and police's lack of initiative in preventing such incidents.

"'Price-tag' vandals have been wandering throughout our country for so many years and they have not been caught," Huldai told Army Radio Sunday morning.

No damage or injuries were reported in Saturday's synagogue attack, and police said they were not convinced the cemetery graffiti was actually spray-painted by right-wing extremists.

The messages "price tag" and "death to Arabs" were written on the tombstones. However, police later reported that the slogan "death to Russians - G.A. 02" was also spray painted in the cemetery, adding that this graffiti was "linked to a soccer group."

Police beefed up their presence in the area, promising to prevent reprisals. They also denied media reports that some 25 graves were damaged in the incident.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said police were looking "at a number
of possibilities" regarding the cemetery defacement.

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