Moral Low Ground


Israeli “Price Tag” Attacks Included In State Department Terror Report

A Palestinian family-- father, mother and 4 children-- were traveling in this taxi when it was firebombed by Jewish extremists in 2012. The family suffered 2nd and 3rd-degree burns but survived)

A Palestinian family– father, mother and 4 children– were traveling in this taxi when it was firebombed by Jewish extremists in 2012. The family suffered 2nd and 3rd-degree burns but survived (Photo: Israeli police)

Israeli officials have voiced their objection to Washington’s inclusion of Jewish settler attacks against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in the State Department’s annual global terrorism report.

Agence France-Presse reports Israeli national police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld rejected the findings of the State Department’s 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism, which was published on Wednesday and includes a reference to the hundreds of racist, religious and nationalist attacks by Jewish extremists against Palestinians in the illegally occupied West Bank, known as “price tag” attacks.

“Attacks by extremist Israeli settlers against Palestinian residents, property and places of worship in the West Bank continued and were largely unprosecuted,” the State Department report states. “The UN… reported 399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage (in 2013).”

The report then mentions “price tag” attacks on mosques and churches in the West Bank. It defined “price tag” attacks as “property crimes and violent acts by extremist Jewish individuals and groups in retaliation for activity they deemed to be anti-settlement” and noted that such violence had spread from the occupied West Bank into Israel proper.

While no one has yet been killed in “price tag” attacks, there have been many cases in which Palestinians, including very young children, have been severely and horrifically injured.

There has been no comparable wave of Palestinian violence against Jewish settlers, although Jews are sometimes attacked and, in extremely rare cases, killed, by Palestinians objecting to nearly 50 years of illegal occupation and continued illegal settlement construction.

Rosenfeld said there was “no comparison whatsoever between criminal incidents with nationalistic motives and [Palestinian] terrorist-related incidents.”

“It is vandalism with nationalistic motives but these are not nationalistic attacks on Palestinians,” explained Rosenfeld. “You cannot compare whatsoever between terrorist attacks, the cold-blooded killing of Israelis and vandalism on that level.”

But Labor Party chairman and Knesset (parliament) member Isaac Herzog disagreed, arguing that Israelis are “appalled and outraged” by “price tag” attacks, which he called terrorism.

“It is terror. I say that to the legal system and to anyone who is trying to fan flames on the basis of religious belief,” said Herzog in response to an apparent “price tag” attack last week in the northern Arab Israeli town of Fureidis that left a mosque and dozens of vehicles vandalized.

Writing recently in the Jerusalem Post, Israeli columnist Efraim Cohen opined that “price tag attacks fit the definition of terror no less than bus bombings. Both are violent acts aimed at civilian targets to further political ends.”

In addition to the Fureidis attack, Israeli media have reported two other suspected “price tag” attacks in recent days. A young woman in Tiberias, on the Sea of Galilee, was attacked with pepper spray by a young religious Israeli teenager while walking along a boardwalk on Thursday, and hateful graffiti was found in a vandalized Arab cemetery near Nesher, in the north.

In response to the increased “price tag” attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the violence “outrageous.”

“We will catch those responsible,” the prime minister vowed. “This is a central goal for us because [the attacks] go against our meaning and our values.” Netanyahu pledged to use Shin Bet, the Israeli internal security service, to capture those responsible for the attacks.

But the United Nations, US State Department and Palestinian human rights organizations all agree that Israel is not adequately targeting perpetrators of “price tag” attacks for prosecution.

In a report titled “Institutional Impunity,” the Palestinian NGO Al-Haq claims that “most investigations of incidents of settler violence have not led to the arrest of suspects, let alone to their prosecution.” Al-Haq accuses Israel of an “institutional unwillingness to hold settlers accountable for criminal acts perpetrated against Palestinians.”

Under international law, the settlements are themselves mostly illegal, with UN human rights official Richard Falk, an American, calling Jewish colonization of the West Bank “a form of ethnic cleansing.”

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