Palestinian cars torched in ‘price tag’ attack in northern Israel

Two cars were set on fire and the words ‘price tag’ spray painted on a house in ‘Ara, a Palestinian village in northern Israel.

By Yael Marom

'Price tag' graffiti in 'Ara, northern Israel, May 24, 2017. (Israel Police Spokesperson's Unit)
‘Price tag’ graffiti in ‘Ara, northern Israel, May 24, 2017. (Israel Police Spokesperson’s Unit)

Residents of ‘Ara, a Palestinian village in northern Israel, awoke on Wednesday morning to find that two of their cars had been set on fire and the words “price tag” spray-painted in Hebrew on the wall of one of their homes. Police arrived on the scene of the incident and have opened an investigation, although there are currently — as expected — no suspects.

The graffiti on the wall in ‘Ara also said “regards from the removed,” likely referring to an administrative order that the Shin Bet against extreme right activist Meir Ettinger, as reported on Tuesday. The order bars him from the West Bank for six months, and from Jerusalem for three months.

The order also places Ettinger, who was released from a 10-month spell in administrative detention around a year ago, under night-time house arrest. Ettinger is not the only right-wing figure whose activities the police are trying to curb through use of administrative orders with no trial, and through declaring various parts of the country off-limits.

But it seems that, as usual, Arabs are paying the price for police efforts to tackle the so-called hilltop youth’s extremist right-wing violence.

Last week, a settler shot a protester dead in the West Bank town of Huwwara after getting caught up in a demonstration, trying to run over demonstrators, and having a volley of stones thrown at him. A photojournalist was also shot and wounded in the incident.

About a month ago, on the morning of April 22, a gang of Israelis from the radical Yitzhar settlement attacked the nearby Palestinian villages of Urif and Huwwara. Residents of the village alerted the Israeli authorities during the first wave of violence, following which the army and police arrived on the scene. However, they made no arrests, simply driving the settlers back from the village before leaving.

The settlers smashed car windows, set fires and injured several Palestinians, including one woman who received a head wound. Israeli soldiers who arrived on the scene shot rubber bullets at the Palestinian residents. Nonetheless, the incident only came to the attention of the Israeli media because an IDF officer received an injury to his hand from a settler.

The day before, a large group of masked settlers from the Baladim outpost — also known for its extremism — assaulted a group of Ta’ayush activists in the Jordan Valley, who were there to protect Palestinian shepherds from settler violence. Five activists were injured.

Joint List MK Yousef Jabareen, who visited the scene of the attack in ‘Ara on Wednesday morning, commented that “the Israel Police are displaying criminal incompetence in dealing with ‘price tag’ terror. It’s remarkable that the police fail to catch the perpetrators, who then continue to set fire to cars, houses, and places of worship.

“Would the police have been this lax in dealing with acts by Palestinians? Why do we have to wait for the next disaster, for the next Duma?”

Yael Marom is Just Vision’s public engagement manager in Israel and a co-editor of Local Call, where this article is also published in Hebrew.