Vandals believed to be Jewish extremists scrawled threatening slogans and punctured the tires of dozens of vehicles during an overnight penetration of two Palestinian villages near Nablus, according to Zakaria Sadeh, field worker for the NGO Rabbis for Human Rights.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed that graffiti found on Tuesday morning was painted on walls and houses and that tires were slashed in Lubban Sharkiya and E-Sawiya.
“Police are investigating the incident. We are still searching for suspects who we believe were involved. We’re looking at it as a criminal incident with nationalistic motives.”
Pictures showed a Star of David and the words “Price Tag,” “God is King” and “No more administrative orders” written in blue paint on cars.
Sadeh said he saw the slogans “Expulsion or Death” and “Here live supporters of terrorism” scrawled in Lubban Sharkiya.
Twenty-eight cars had their tires slashed in Lubban Sharkiya and 20 in E-Sawiya, Sadeh said after visiting the villages. “People are angry the army doesn’t prevent this, and think it will happen again,” he said.
The vandalism came five days after Jewish extremists set fire to a mosque in Akraba, also near Nablus. Villagers were able to extinguish the flames, with limited damage caused to the religious structure. Residents suspect that attack was retribution for the fatal stabbing of an Israeli father of four, Adiel Kolman, 32, in Jerusalem’s Old City by an Akraba resident last month.
Two weeks ago, cars were vandalized in Fara’ata village near Nablus, where the phrase “Administrative price tag” was scrawled.
Price Tag refers to the idea that Arabs will pay a price for violence against Israelis or government actions against settlement construction.
Gilad Grossman, spokesman for the NGO Yesh Din, said: “These acts of vandalism are meant not only to physically damage but to frighten people in their homes. They are also a message to law enforcement agencies that there will be retaliation for any attempt to enforce the law against these extremists.”
He charged that police are not doing enough to stop such crimes. “If you don’t investigate properly and you don’t find who committed them and indict them, then there will be no justice and no fear of justice, and that’s what allows all these incidents to continue.”
Rosenfeld termed Yesh Din’s position “incorrect, inaccurate and misleading.”
“Police are doing everything possible to prevent and respond to the attacks. There are a number of ongoing investigations by the Judea and Samaria [Police] District. Police patrol the various areas to prevent incidents taking place. There is coordination with the IDF and the Palestinian authorities, and that’s all part of the efforts to prevent and respond to incidents.”
Avi Roeh, head of the Binyamin Regional Council in the West Bank, condemned the vandalism in Lubban Sharkiya and E-Sawiya. “We condemn and utterly reject actions like this, and rely on the police and security forces to find the guilty and bring them to justice,” he said.
PLO spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi blamed the government.
“This is ongoing and escalating. What is serious is that you are going to see settler violence and settler terrorism that goes again unpunished and they do feel encouraged and emboldened by this extremist coalition and its sense of impunity. There is an increasing sense of impunity by the settlers who feel they have a free hand to terrorize the Palestinian people in their own homes and lands.”
David Baker, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, did not offer an immediate response.
Meanwhile, IDF troops used tear gas against what participants said was a peaceful march in solidarity with Palestinian security prisoners near the northern entrance to El-Bireh, near Ramallah. The march was called to mark Palestinian Prisoners Day and included people hoisting Palestinian flags and mothers holding pictures of their imprisoned sons, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported. The IDF Spokesperson’s Unit had no comment by press time.