'Palestinians may have faked price tag attack'

Police suspect Palestinians vandalized 6 cars in Kusra village in order to falsely claim a price tag attack by Jewish extremists.

Torched cars in Kusra 370 (photo credit: עבד אל-כרים א-סעדי, בצלם.)
Torched cars in Kusra 370
(photo credit: עבד אל-כרים א-סעדי, בצלם.)
Police on Thursday were investigating the possibility that Palestinians may have vandalized six cars in Kusra, near Nablus, last week so that they could falsely claim it was a “price-tag” attack by Jews.
“Israeli police have completed the initial findings,” National Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. “The conclusion is that the incident was not carried out as first thought. It’s not a criminal incident with nationalistic motives,” he said.
“The suspicion is that it was locals [Palestinians] or other suspects who are trying to fake the incident,” he said.
At issue is a report last Thursday by Palestinians from Kusra, with the help of the nongovernmental organization B’Tselem – The Israel Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, that Jewish extremists, possibly settlers, had entered Kusra.
According to B’Tselem, the vandals torched four cars and broke the windows of two others.
Palestinians said they witnessed the incident identified the attackers as Jewish extremists or settlers. An Israeli identification card was found near the cars.
Rosenfeld said the ID card was a key piece of evidence that raised suspicion. It belonged to a soldier, and was handed over to police by villagers, who said they found it at the scene of the alleged attack, Rosenfeld said.
The soldier had been on a patrol in the area and had reported the ID missing two days earlier, Rosenfeld said. The soldier was not near where the cars were burned, yet villagers turned in his ID saying it was found at the scene, he said.
He added that the soldier did not live in a West Bank settlement and the suspicion was that his ID was planted in a botched attempt to frame him.
Suspicion was also raised by findings made by the forensic investigators, including the fact that photos presented by villagers appeared to suggest that the vehicles had been torched and then moved, and possibly posed for the pictures, Rosenfeld said.
He added that investigators were greeted by rioting villagers, usually not the case when they come to gather clues following a “price-tag” attack.
Sarit Michaeli of B’Tselem said that her organization has not seen the police’s file, but planned to ask for it.
Palestinians spoke with police about the incident only on Wednesday, and the main witness had yet to be interviewed, Michaeli said.
“This was the quickest police investigation ever,” she said.
MK Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) said he welcomed the police’s quick response, particularly given that “price-tag” attacks had become an excuse for a “blood libel” against law-abiding residents of Judea and Samaria.
Benny Katzover, chairman of the Samaria Citizens Committee, said, “Today it was proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that we are talking about an event that was instigated by Arabs, accompanied by leftwing organizations, that continue to support terrorism, and inflame the area, with their blood libel against the settlers.”
Referring to an incident in which settlers reported that on Saturday, Palestinians came to the field outside the outpost and threw stones at them, Katzover said: “Inflamed by this false charge, Palestinians on Saturday attacked the nearby Esh Kodesh outpost to exact revenge.”
Kusra residents in turn charged that settlers attacked their village.
Police were investigating claims that Israeli civilians shot two Palestinians during the clashes.