Price tag
A Palestinian looking at a defaced vehicle in Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah, Sept. 22, 2013. Photo by Tali Mayer
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Vandals slashed the tires of five cars belonging to Palestinians and sprayed "price tag" graffiti on them near Mount Zion outside Jerusalem's Old City Monday night.

This is the third such price tag incident in a week, in which right-wing extremists are suspected of committing revenge attacks on Palestinian property over Israeli policies in the West Bank, or in response to violence against settlers.

Not far from there, the police arrested four young men suspected of vandalizing grave markers in a nearby Christian cemetery two days ago.

The Jerusalem police also arrested another two suspects Tuesday morning, in addition to the two Jewish teenagers arrested on Sunday, for damaging the cars of eight residents in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. The two arrested on Sunday were caught in the act by police. All four suspects in this case are minors. The cars appear to have been scratched Saturday night with keys and a screwdriver near the Tomb of Simeon the Just. The two suspects, aged 14 and 16, were arrested shortly afterward, but have not answered police questions. Sheikh Jarrah has been the site of repeated protests against the planned eviction of a Palestinian family living there and against Jewish settlement in the area.

The Jerusalem police say more arrests are expected.

This raised the number of Jewish youths arrested in the past few days on suspicion of participating in price tag attacks, retribution militant settlers have said they will exact for any Israeli government curbs on settlement in the occupied West Bank, to eight. It seems that a characteristic format of price tag attacks against Palestinian property may be developing in Jerusalem.

On Monday, possibly as a reaction to these attacks, the phrase "Allahu Akhbar" was spray painted on a memorial to the Israeli paratroopers who fell in the Sheikh Jarrah area in the Six-Day War.

The recent arrests were made by the Nationalist Crimes Unit in the Jerusalem District, a unit established to fight crimes such as price tag attacks, after a long period in which the police were harshly criticized for not doing enough to combat such crimes – and for failing deal with them.

The Jerusalem Magistrates Court on Monday extended the remand of the suspects in the vandalism of the cemetery for another three days. One of the minors arrested in the Sheikh Jarrah case was remanded for an additional day and the other suspect for two days.

The suspects arrested Tuesday are to be brought before the court later in the day to extend their remand period. Some of the suspects are residents of settlements, but are under a military order banning them from entering the West Bank because of their activities as "Hilltop Youth."

Seven vehicles belonging to Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem were vandalized just a week ago, also on a Saturday night, in the third so-called price tag attack in the neighborhood in as many months.

Adi Keidar, the attorney representing the suspects in the Mount Zion case on behalf Haneneu, a right-wing legal aid organization, said they were not arrested while committing any crime, but were simply there to immerse in a nearby ritual bath. "This is only a circumstantial accusation,” Keidar said. “In light of the fact that the suspects gave a version that was not contradicted, the chance that the case will turn into an indictment is minuscule."