Haredim suspected of defacing Livni on election posters
Police believe vandalism may be motivated by politics, religious extremism or gender discrimination.
By SHELLY PAZ
A week before the country goes to the polls, police are investigating the defacement of Kadima election posters in Jerusalem.
Police suspect haredi extremists opposed to public images of women have been painting over Kadima leader Tzipi Livni's face on posters throughout the city, but no arrests have yet been made.
A police spokesman told The Jerusalem Post that the defacements, some of which occurred outside haredi neighborhoods, had probably been perpetrated by the same individuals, as the same color had been used to cover Livni's face in each instance.
According to the spokesman, this type of offense is not considered a serious crime, but could lead to an arrest, indictment and small fine.
Police sources said that fighting this phenomenon was more of an educational challenge than a security one, and that standing guard over each billboard was out of the question.
The office of Jerusalem's newly-elected secular mayor, Nir Barkat, said on Monday that although the billboards were not municipal property, the city considered the vandalism to be a "a severe matter."
Police sources believe the vandalism may have been motivated by anything from politics to religious extremism or gender discrimination.
Livni's face was covered not only on Kadima posters, but on Labor posters as well, where she appears next to Labor Chairman Ehud Barak and Likud Chairman Binyamin Netanyahu.
The sources noted that pictures of Labor MK Shelly Yacimovich had also been vandalized when the party printed ads of its top five candidates about six weeks ago.
In response to the vandalism, Livni's spokesman said the Kadima leader would not be deterred or intimidated.
"Livni opposes any type of censorship and any type of extortion," the spokesman said. "Livni's ads, which appear all over the country, are identical and this is how they will remain. Anyone who wants to thwart the democratic process has one week to get used to what the face of the next prime minister of Israel looks like."
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