'Traitors Choose to Harass Jews': Over 20 Palestinian Cars Vandalized in West Bank City

Graffiti sprayed-painted in scene likely refers to recent decision by Israeli army to declare hill from which settlers threw rocks at soldiers as closed-off military zone

The graffiti near al-Bira, West Bank, on October 23, 2019.
Iyad Haddad/B'Tselem

Unidentified vandals defaced more than 20 vehicles near a checkpoint in the West Bank city of al-Bira on Tuesday overnight, as well as spray-painted graffiti on a wall in the area that read: "closed-off military area traitors choose to harass Jews."

Police said they entered the scene along with Israeli army forces and began collecting evidence, and that an investigation was underway.

The graffiti most likely refers to the closed-off military area order that was enforced by the Israeli army to Comey Uri Hill near the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar following the violence in the area against security forces.

The order stipulates except for the residents of the hill, six to eight families in total, no one is allowed to stay there.  The order was extended to November 20 on Wednesday morning.

Palestinian vehicles parked in the vandalized area, on October 23, 2019.
Iyad Haddad/B'Tselem

The Israeli army declared the nearby hill, from which settlers threw rocks at soldiers, to be a closed-off military area earlier this week. Border Police troops are now positioned on the hill to prevent individuals who do not reside in the outpost from going up the hill. 

The order came after a series of violent incidents in the area. Last week, Jewish settlers assaulted Palestinian farmers, wounding three, at an olive grove near the village of Burin. Witnesses said the settlers attacked the farmers while they were harvesting olives, and also damaged the grove.

Following the incident, clashes erupted between the settlers and the Israeli soldiers who arrived at the scene.

Palestinian vehicles parked in the vandalized area, on October 23, 2019.
Iyad Haddad/B'Tselem

Also over the past few days, West Bank settlers attacked Israelisoldiers several times. Senior defense officials said they are frustrated by “conflicting messages” about how they’re supposed to handle such violence.

A day later, Jewish settlers hurled rocks toward Border Police troops near the settlement of Yitzhar. And over the weekend, several settlers blocked a military vehicle from entering Yitzhar, opened the car door and threatened the soldiers who were seated inside.