Hundreds of Grapevines, Trees Vandalized in Suspected West Bank Hate Crime

Spray-painted messages in Hebrew were found in Palestinian town of Deir Jarir

Spray-painted messages are seen at the site of a suspected hate crime in the Palestinian village of Deir Jarir, the West Bank, April 3, 2019.
Rabbi Arik Ascherman/Torat Tzedek

Hundreds of plants were vandalized in a suspected hate crime in that targeted the Palestinian town of Deir Jarir. Palestinian residents said Wednesday some 400 grapevines and 150 almond trees had been damaged.

Spray-painted messages in Hebrew were also found in the town, north-east of the West Bank city of Ramallah, reading "price tag," a term adopted by Israeli settlers and extreme right activists, alongside Stars of David.

The residents reported the incident on Tuesday, and Israeli police arrived at the scene on Wednesday to investigate it.

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Last month seventeen vehicles were vandalized in the Palestinian town of Battir, situated southwest of Jerusalem. The windows of the cars were smashed, and vandals also spray-painted the Star of David symbol on some of the vehicles, along with slogans in Hebrew that read: “We do not sleep while our brothers are being slain” and “Enough with the terror attacks.”

Spray-painted messages are seen at the site of a suspected hate crime in the Palestinian village of Deir Jarir, the West Bank, April 3, 2019.
Rabbi Arik Ascherman/Torat Tzedek

Residents reported the vandalism to the police, which in turn launched an investigation into the incident.

In January, the windows of three vehicles in the West Bank village of Turmus Ayya were broken. About 15 olive trees were cut down in a grove near the village of Al-Tuwani in the southern West Bank, also in January, by unknown perpetrators. The words “revenge” and “death to Arabs” were spray-painted on rocks in the area.

Last year saw a steep rise in “nationalist crimes,” violence and property damage by Jews against Palestinians in the West Bank. As of mid-December, 482 such incidents had been reported, compared to 140 for 2017.

Violence by settlers and right-wing activists included beating up and throwing stones at Palestinians. More frequently, the offenses consisted of painting nationalist and anti-Arab or anti-Muslim slogans, damaging homes and cars and cutting down trees belonging to Palestinian farmers.