Cars Set Ablaze, Graffiti Scrawled in Suspected West Bank Hate Crime

Vandals targeted four different Palestinian villages overnight, and graffiti slogans link the incident to the illegal outpost of Kumi Ori near the settlement of Yitzhar

Star of David sprayed on a car in the Palestinian village of ad-Dik in Salfit Governorate in the West Bank, November 22, 2019.

Vehicles were set ablaze and hateful graffiti was scrawled in a suspected hate crime in four West Bank Palestinian villages overnight Thursday.

Stars of David and slogans reading "Kumi Ori,"and "Are we still a closed-off military zone?" in Hebrew were spray-painted on walls in Beit Dajan, Qabalan, Majdal Beni Fadl near Nablus, and Kafr ad-Dik in Salfit Governorate.

The vehicle of Suleiman Zayn al-Din, 47, from Majdal Beni Fadl, was also set ablaze overnight Thursday. Al-Din told Haaretz that two people were caught on camera vandalizing his and his son's cars. "They caused damage of tens of thousands of shekels," he said. 

'Kumi Ori hill' scrawled in the Palestinian village of ad-Dik in Salfit Governorate, November 22, 2019.

Israel Police said they have launched an investigation into the incident.

The Israeli army enforced a closed-off military area order on the outpost at Kumi Ori hill near the Jewish settlement of Yitzhar following the violence in the area against Israeli soldiers in October, which culminated when some 30 West Bank settlers threw stones at soldiers and punctured their vehicle's tires, lightly wounding one.

Vehicle set on fire in the Palestinian village of Beit Dajan near Nablus, November 22, 2019.

Despite the order, a Border Police tent was set on fire outside Yitzhar, and cars were vandalized in the nearby Palestinian village of Yatma.

Two weeks ago the police arrested a man who defied an administrative injunction prohibiting him from being in the West Bank.

The man, Neria Zarug, is an activist in the so-called hilltop youth, as young settlers who espouse extreme, hard-line views are sometimes dubbed. He has been residing on a hilltop near Yitzhar called Kumi Ori and openly defying the injunction for over a month. When security forces arrived at a building in the settlement to arrest him, he locked himself in. According to the right-wing Honenu organization, dozens of residents were trying to prevent his arrest. The organization said that 15 people were injured in clashes with police officers.

According to Israeli human rights NGO B'Tselem, there have been 13 incidents during which tires were slashed and hateful graffiti was sprayed in Palestinian villages in the West Bank in October and November, not including the aforementioned incident, or the latest incident in which Palestinian olive groves were vandalized.

On November 14, threatening writings were scrawled and some 25 vehicles were vandalized in the Palestinian village of Qarawat Bani Hassan in the West Bank.

The slogans "Gentiles in the homeland=enemies," and "Israel for the Israeli nation" were spray-painted on the walls of a mosque in the village.

A week earlier, 120 olive trees were heavily damaged in the West Bank in three separate incidents. Branches were sawed off the trees in the fields of the Palestinian villages of As-Sawiya, near Nablus, close to the settlement of Rehelim, and near Yasuf, which is in the Salfit area, close to the settlement of Tapuach.

The police said a complaint had been filed and that an investigation was opened regarding the incident at Yasuf.

Last month Jewish settlers assaulted Palestinian farmers, wounding three, at an olive grove near the village of Burin in the West Bank, according to witnesses and the Red Crescent. Witnesses said the settlers attacked the farmers while they were harvesting olives, and also damaged the grove.