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Mon Jul 1, 2013, 02:55 PM


Israelís Apathetic Hunt For 'Price Tag' Attackers

Israelís extensive security apparatus has been deployed to remarkable effect against Palestinian terrorists, so why havenít the 'price-tag' thugs been brought in? The answers donít do us much credit.

By Don Futterman | Jul.01, 2013

"Price-tag" attacks have swept through the Jerusalem area this June, leaving the Arab neighborhoods and villages of Sheikh Jarrah, Beit Hanina and Abu Ghosh defaced by racist graffiti, vandalized tombstones and torched vehicles. Of these, Abu Ghosh has a special place in Israeli consciousness, the village having sided with the Jews ever since the War of Independence. This incident brought out the big guns: a denunciation from the prime minister and a solidarity delegation led by President Shimon Peres.

Only a day earlier, the government decided not to term "price tag" attacks as acts of terror, designating perpetrators instead as members of an illegal organization, which supposedly would grant the police additional powers to combat the phenomenon. But this was glitter to dazzle apathetic Knesset members. Price tag thugs do not necessarily belong to any organization, and our security forces have always had the means to stop these attacks; what they lack is the will and the political backing.

The "price tag" campaign began a few years ago in the West Bank. Each time the army would act to remove an illegal outpost, or when plans of such an operation became known, settler extremists would make sure that some Palestinians somewhere would ďpay the price.Ē The villages or individuals appeared to be targeted at random, with no clear connection to the outpost in question, thus adding to the sense of unpredictability. The campaign has escalated over the past two-and-a-half years to include actions against an IDF base, a growing number of attacks on private property, churches and mosques within and outside Arab villages, within the Green Line or in East Jerusalem, and assaults on Jewish-Israeli critics of the occupation, such as activists from Peace Now.

"Price tag" incidents are sometimes dismissed as vandalism, but they have gone far beyond graffiti and slashed tires; there have been harsh beatings and the torching of holy sites. The level of violence and victimization may be far from the mass murder of suicide bombings and shootings, but it would be disingenuous to minimize the feeling of victims that they are being terrorized Ė and this is clearly the intention of the assailants.



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