Some 40 cars had their tires slashed and anti-Arab graffiti was sprayed on walls in an Arab town in northern Israel overnight Thursday. Among the graffiti was “Only goys [non-Jews] will be driven out of our land.”
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Israel Police are investigating the vandalism in the town of Jish, near Safed. Footage from security cameras n the area showed three perpetrators carrying out the attack without interference.
Jish, know in Hebrew as Gush Halav, has a population of 3,000 Christians and Muslims. Some of the residents originally came from the village of Briam, near the Lebanese border, from which they were evicted by the Israel Defense Forces in 1948. The neighborhood in which the attack occurred is a mixed Muslim-Christian neighborhood.
Dr. Mustafa Abbasi, a resident of Jish and a lecturer in the Tel-Hai Academic College, woke up Thursday morning to find his and his wife’s car tires slashed. “I’m deeply offended and very fearful for the continued relationship between the two people living in this land,” Abbasi told Haaretz and added that he believes the vandals feel beyond of the law’s reach, and therefore keep attacking Arab citizens.
It was the first such incident in Jish, Abbassi said, but there had been similar hate crimes in the Galilee villages of Akbara and Tuba-Zangariyye.
He added that Jish had enjoyed good relations with its neighboring Jewish communities. “Nothing happened that could explain why they targeted us tonight,” he said.
Zuzu Zahara, a farmer whose car tires were slashed, said that “it’s not about the financial damage, it’s about the humiliation. This is a mark of shame for the State of Israel.”
Council head Eliass Eliass called it a sad day. “I’m angry with the security services who don’t arrest the vandals. It happens time after time. It’s the state’s job to catch them. We’re a good community that integrated well with our neighbors; we’ve never had any disputes. I demand the state compensate those damaged.”
A solidarity delegation from local kibbutzim arrived in the afternoon. “This is a despicable act. Someone wants to set our peaceful region on fire. We have excellent neighborly relations with Jish. Today is painful for me,” said Eli Safran from Kibbutz Baram. The head of the Galil Elyon Regional Council also condemned the crime.
The Tag Meir (Spreading the Light] organization, which is dedicated to opposing hate crimes, demonstrated at the village on Thursday evening and called on the government to define such attacks as terrorism. “The price tag terrorism in Gush Halav joins a long list of similar incidents in places such as Dir Rafat, Beit Hanina and Jaljoulya,” the coalition said in a statement.
“Such attacks have become epidemic throughout Israel.”