Five Vehicles Set Ablaze in Palestinian Village in Suspected Hate Crime

The incident, along with vandalism in another Palestinian town, is the latest in a spate of violent attacks in the West Bank in recent weeks

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A car set on fire in Jalud, Sunday night.
A car set on fire in Jalud, Sunday night.

Five cars were set on fire and vandalism was reported in suspected hate crimes against West Bank Palestinians on Sunday night, according to police.

A group of about 15 people came into Jalud, a village south of Nablus, and set fire to the vehicles, according to area activist Bashar Karyoti. The attackers also began throwing stones at a home in the village before the family living there repelled them, he said.

Karyoti said the home is located in the southern part of the village, near the outposts of the Shilo settlement, and that the house has been a past target for retaliatory settler attacks. He added that police arrived at the scene and took security photos of the house.

"Revenge" spray-painted in Turmus Ayya, Monday morning.

Police say officers and soldiers were dispatched to the scene after the arson in Jalud, and that the incident remains under investigation.

In Turmus Ayya, a town near the Ariel settlement, derogatory graffiti and punctured tires were reported as well, say police. In that same town last week, after the deadly stabbing attack by a Palestinian in Be'er Sheva, 200 young olive trees were uprooted and signs in the area were spray-painted with the words “revenge” and “Be’er Sheva war," according to a security official.

Last week also saw several other violent incidents against Palestinians in the West Bank after the stabbing, among them an attempted arson of a mosque in the town of Jamna’in, near Nablus, during which malicious graffiti was also sprayed on homes. A group of masked men also damaged cars and houses with batons and stones in the village of Muhmas near Ramallah last week.

A security official said settlers had also thrown stones at cars near the Beit El settlement, and stone throwing near the Givat Assaf settler outpost and the Yitzhar settlement was filmed by activists from human rights group Yesh Din, which documents violence against Palestinians.

Additional reports of vandalism against Palestinians and olive-tree uprooting have come in recent weeks, including tire-slashing and graffiti in the village of Fara'ata, which produced an arrest earlier this month: the security coordinator for the illegal outpost of Gilad, Yair Oppenheimer, who is suspected of aiding in the vandalism.

Col. Roi Zweig, the commander of the Israel Defense Forces’ Samaria Regional Brigade, has defended Oppenheimer in court, saying, “He is one of the best security coordinators there is in terms of values and professionalism." Zweig's command is responsible for the Gilad outpost.

The Tag Meir Forum, which fights hate crimes, condemned the most recent attacks in Jalud and Turmus Ayya, and said that they were occurring "without any real disruption by security forces."

Yesh Din said last week that the violence "is taking place under the noses of Israeli law enforcement, which allows violence and retaliation to occur as a matter of course, and also encourages it.”

A security source last week called the situation in the West Bank "very sensitive" and said the "nationalistically motivated crime," perpetrated by a "handful of offenders," endangers security stability in the area.

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