Last updated: 9 November, 2011

West Bank cars torched in possible “price tag” attack

Three Palestinian cars were set ablaze overnight in the West Bank village of Beit Omar near Hebron and a house sprayed with graffiti, witnesses and police said on Wednesday.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP the words “price tag” were sprayed on the wall, and said police had launched an investigation and were “looking for suspects.”

Witnesses said “Greetings from Bat Ayin” settlement was written on a nearby wall alongside the words “There will be war over Givat Assaf,” in reference to an illegal outpost built on private Palestinian land which is slated for demolition by the end of the year.

Hardline Jewish settlers have adopted what they call a “price tag” policy — a euphemism for revenge attacks against Palestinians and their property following Israeli government measures against settlements.

In recent months, the scope of such attacks has broadened, with vandals targeting Israeli army vehicles, mosques and cemeteries inside Israel, and even Israeli activists involved in the anti-settlement movement.

Israeli police said they had arrested a 21-year-old Jerusalem resident in connection with an attack on the offices of settlement watchdog Peace Now at the weekend.

The incident, which occurred on Sunday night, saw Peace Now’s offices daubed with the words “price tag” and subjected to a bomb hoax in what the group said was the second such incident in a week.

“He was arrested in connection with the attack on the Peace Now headquarters in Jerusalem, as well as a number of other graffiti incidents of price tag around Jerusalem,” Rosenfeld said, indicating the suspect was not a settler.

“He admitted to carrying out and being involved in those incidents.”

A day later, threatening graffiti was discovered in the stairwell of a block of Jerusalem flats where Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran lives in what was the second such attack on her home in two months.

The words “Hagit Ofran: Rest in Peace” were sprayed on the wall alongside “Rabin is waiting for you,” in reference to slain prime minister Yitzak Rabin who was killed by a right-wing extremist exactly 16 years ago.

They also wrote “price tag” and “revenge for Givat Assaf.”

The planned demolition of six outposts by the year’s end has raised tensions in the settler community which has started a campaign to prevent the move ordered in August by the Supreme Court after a legal battle waged by Palestinian land-owners.

Israel considers settlement outposts built without government approval to be illegal and often sends security personnel to demolish them. They usually consist of little more than a few trailers.

Education Minister Gideon Saar strongly condemned the “price tag” attacks at a memorial service for Rabin on Wednesday.

“The price tag gangs that harass innocent people, damage property, attack Israeli soldiers and security forces, burn mosques and terrorise on political opponents are a violent and dangerous cancerous growth that must be uprooted,” he said.