The delegitimization campaign that extreme right-wing activists are conducting against civil servants could end in serious violence, according to warnings passed on to the political echelon by the Shin Bet security service.

Shin Bet officials have identified a radicalization in the phenomena that first emerged ahead of the disengagement from Gaza in 2004, and see a connection between them and the increased attacks on mosques and Palestinian property - actions that their perpetrators are defining as "a price tag."

What do you think of this article? Visit Haaretz.com on Facebook and share your views.

Shin Bet sources say members of the extreme right are making an effort to deter defense officials whose duties include coming into contact with such elements. The extremists are also trying to intimidate senior law enforcement officials, the Shin Bet sources add.

The two most prominent incidents in the past year have been the smear campaign conducted against Deputy Attorney General Shai Nitzan and the demonstrations held against the Israel Defense Forces' Judea and Samaria Division commander, Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon.

The phenomena, however, stretch far further than these two matters, the Shin Bet says. Among other incidents, for example, the full names of officials from the Shin Bet's Jewish Division have been published on Internet websites, and their wives and children have been harassed at work and school. Civil Administration officials involved in keeping tabs on building violations have also been harassed.

According to the Shin Bet, the right-wing extremists no longer appear to need a "trigger" to take action, while the targets of the violence are also widening - military vehicles at an IDF base near Ramallah have been vandalized, and threatening graffiti has been sprayed onto the apartment door of a left-wing activist. Attacks on Arabs and their property are carried out when the opportunity arises, the Shin Bet officials add.

Defense establishment sources believe that some of the "price tag" attacks are being carried out by well-known right-wingers. Some two months ago, 12 right-wing extremists were ordered to stay out of the West Bank on the grounds that some of them had been involved in the torching of mosques. Restraining orders were issued because authorities have yet to collect enough evidence to press charges. None of the activists have sought to overturn the orders through the High Court of Justice.

Shin Bet officials believe that the acts of violence are being carried out by a few dozen individuals who are being supported by a circle of a few hundred right-wing activists. The vast majority of the settlers reject such actions, Shin Bet officials say.