Monday, August 10, 2020

Escalation of Price Tag Attacks in West Bank and East Jerusalem

By Sam Gilbert - June 24, 2013
Section: [Main News] [Life under Occupation]
Tags: [Beit Hanina] [Abu Ghosh] [Settlers attacks] [settler violence] [price tag]

Twenty-one cars had their tires slashed and racist graffiti was painted on nearby Palestinian buildings in the Jerusalem Neighborhood of Beit Hanina this Sunday, in the most recent in a string of “Price Tag” attacks committed by right wing activists and settlers in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

These nationalistically motivated hate crimes, branded “Price Tag” attacks, began making headlines back in 2009 when a Mosque was set on fire in the West Bank village of Yasouf, according to the Israeli Newspaper, Haaretz.  The vandalism and destruction of property in Beit Hanina is the fourth suspected “Price Tag” attack in East Jerusalem in the past month, and the 24th attack since the beginning of January, as documented by Peace Now.
Five days earlier, in the Israeli city of Abu Ghosh, twenty-eight Arab Israeli residents had their tires slashed, coupled with racist slogans, such as “Arabs get out,” spray painted across nearby walls.   
These price tag attacks are usually perpetrated by Israeli “extremist” youth, and include the desecration of mosques, damage to Palestinian vehicles/property and the writing of racist graffiti on the homes of Palestinians and Israeli activists alike.  
According to the New York Times, these acts are done to "exact a price from local Palestinians or from the Israeli security forces for any action taken against their settlement enterprise.” The Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem has documented a pattern whereby these attacks generally follow actions by Israeli authorities that are perceived as harming the settlement enterprise, or following Palestinian violence against settlers.  
According to Israeli Police, the escalation of these kinds of attacks has to do with the “complete lack of deterrence” among right wing activists from committing these crimes. 
Israeli Response
The Israeli Newspaper, The Jerusalem Post, reported numerous high-ranking Israeli official coming out in condemnation of the recent attacks.    
Leader of right wing Jewish Home Party Naftali Bennett said "price tag" attacks were "immoral and un-Jewish acts."
President Shimon Peres has condemned such attacks, labeling it as "a racist behavior that constitutes the crossing of a red line."
Apposition leader Yacimovich said the "The attacks are crimes of hate," Adding  "It is imperative that security forces do what they can to bring justice."
According to Al-Akbar English, the Israeli security cabinet on Sunday night strengthened law enforcement’s ability to combat the growing phenomenon of “price-tag” attacks by declaring their perpetrators an “illegal association” but stopping short of the original justice ministry proposal to call their acts "terrorism."
While the Israeli government has condemned such actions, it appears that it will not go so far as to classify them as terrorism. 
Many feel that these new measures are not enough, and that the states reluctance on labeling “price tag” acts as terrorism are consistent with the State’s policy of allowing Israeli settlers to act with impunity in the West Bank, destroying Palestinian property, committing violent acts and instilling fear in the population.  
These acts cleary constitute a form of systematic violence with an explicit political objective (punishing the Arab presence in 'eretz Israel’ and/or any actions deemed contrary to the settlement enterprise).   Understood as such, these actions fit the definition of terrorism: “the use of violence and intimidation to secure political results”, according to Lawyer Michael Sfard in a statement made to the Christian Science Monitor.
As the occupying power, the Israeli Military has a legal obligation to protect Palestinians against settler violence, yet seldom do the complaints filed by Palestinians against Israeli aggression result in convictions.  And while it’s hard to know whether the Knesset will ultimately label these attacks as acts of terrorism, clearly nothing of yet has succeeded in halting the escalation of violence perpetrated against Palestinians in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

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