Vandals Slash Tires, Spray anti-Arab Graffiti in East Jerusalem and Northern Israel

28 cars vandalized; acts could be revenge for administrative restraining orders issued against West Bank settlers in recent weeks

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About 20 vehicles were vandalized in East Jerusalem early Tuesday morning in what police are calling a suspected anti-Arab hate crime.

Some of the cars in the Shoafat neighborhood had their tires slashed and others were spray-painted with the words "administrative price tag."

The so-called "price tag" attacks have become Israeli shorthand for anti-Arab hate crimes.

The graffiti on one car read "King Pikar," an apparent reference to Elkana Pikar, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar who was recently slapped with an administrative restraining order restricting him from the West Bank for four months.

The anti-racism group Tag Meir claimed that "the vandalism and graffiti on the cars are acts of revenge by 'price tag' criminals in response to the administrative restraining orders issued against them in recent weeks."

A vandalized car near East Jerusalem's Shoafat neighborhood, May 9, 2017. Credit: Amer Arouri/B'Tselem
A car with its tires slashed near East Jerusalem's Shoafat neighborhood, May 9, 2017.Credit: Amer Arouri/B'Tselem

Also overnight, two buildings in Na'ura, an Arab village in northern Israel, were spray-painted with the words "administrative price tag" and "administrative revenge." The tires of eight cars parked nearby were slashed.

Na'ura is one of the five Arab villages in Israel's Gilboa region. The Gilboa regional council said footage from security cameras in Na'ura showed several individuals arriving to the village around 2 A.M. and spray-painting the graffiti. They are also seen puncturing the tires of cars nearby.

The five villages make up about 40 percent of the area's residents. The Gilboa council issued a statement expressing shock at the incident, calling it "particularly serious" but adding that it would not disrupt coexistence in the area.

Seventeen restraining orders barring Israeli citizens from the West Bank for a number of months have been issued in recent weeks. Settlers said the orders affect residents of several settlements, including Yitzhar, Kiryat Arba and Kokhav Hashahar, in addition to residents from the Tel Aviv area. These restraining orders follow 20 others that had been previously issued and are still in effect.

Residents of Yitzhar were furious about the order issued to Pikar, saying that it will separate him from his six children. They claimed that Shin Bet security service officials had told him the order was issued because he has been hosting members of the so-called "hilltop youth," extremist Jewish teenagers whose efforts have included building outposts on West Bank hilltops.

"An investigation was opened immediately and all means at [the police's] disposal are being utilized to locate the suspects, arrest them and bring them to justice," stated the Jerusalem District police.

Zehava Galon, chairwoman of the left-wing Meretz party, called the acts of vandalism "the first fruits and direct result of incitement by the Knesset speaker [Yuli Edelstein] and the defense minister [Avigdor Lieberman] against leftists and Arab citizens."

Last week Edelstein made comments about "traitorous" elements of the left and on Monday, Lieberman implied that Israel's enemies include left-wingers and Arab Knesset members.

Galon said that the statements are already yielding "poisonous fruit" and added that other lawmakers' silence signals their approval of the comments and makes them responsible for the vandalism.

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