Hate Crimes in North Israel: 'Death to Arabs' Scrawled on Window, Car Tires Punctured

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni to hold emergency meeting on latest incident in a spate of anti-Arab hate crimes in Israel.

Rami Shlloush

Vandals scrawled "Death to Arabs" and "Greetings to Fureidis, Price Tag," on the windows of the practice of a Druze dentist in Yokneam on Wednesday, the latest in a spate of hate crimes that has swept Israel in recent weeks.

A resident of the city, 25, was arrested later in the afternoon in the midst of puncturing tires on a car in a local construction zone. Police are investigating whether he is connected to the latest string of attacks in that city, which included multiple incidences of vandalism on Arab-owned cars.

"Price tag" refers to right-wing extremists' campaign against Israel's policy in the West Bank settlements, and is commonly used in Israel to refer to anti-Arab vandalism. Fureidis is an Arab town near Zichron Ya'akov that was also recently targeted by vandals. Like Yokneam, it is in northern Israel.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was expected convene an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the expansion of such attacks into Israel proper and the hate crimes in Arab towns in the north over the past week, and the possible law enforcement steps that could be taken. Joining her will be Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Israel Police head Yohanan Danino and other officials, including from the state prosecutor and attorney general's offices.

Police Major General and Coastal District Commander Haggai Dotan said the police would make every effort to find those who vandalized Khatter Nashed's dentistry practice, which they classified as a serious incident.

Also on Wednesday, graffiti of swastikas was discovered in a graveyard in the northern Menashe Regional Council and on a guard post in the northern town of Harish.

The Menashe Regional Council filed a complaint with the police. Head of the council Ilan Sadeh said in response: "This is an atrocious act, part of the wave of price tags in the area of late. We condemn such acts and call on the government of Israel to deem such price tag attacks as terror, and enable the security forces to stop the inciters with all means at their disposal. The residents of the Menashe Regional Council will continue to honor one another and live in coexistence and educate our children to maintain such relations."

The latest anti-Arab incidents in Yokneam came on the heels of a similar one in the town last week, when tires on the car belonging to an Arab man were slashed in a parking lot and the car doors spray-painted with the words "price tag." The Afula police are investigating the incident, but no arrests have been made.

Earlier, the man's brother, Orsan Amara, had his tires slashed in the same parking lot. He said the brothers, who work in the area, are scared that next time the vandals will hurt them.

"It's impossible. The incident repeated itself in exactly the same place," he said. "This hurts. How could it be that they don't catch the perpetrators?"

Vandals recently attempted to torch a mosque in Umm al-Fahm, prompting a protest by hundreds of people last month.

Rami Shlloush