Israel launches crackdown on pro-settler “Price Tag” vandals in West Bank

July 1, 2013

(A monk stands next to graffiti sprayed by vandals on a wall at the entrance to the Latrun Monastery near Jerusalem September 4, 2012. REUTERS/Baz Ratner )

Israel announced a crackdown on Monday against Jewish ultranationalists who vandalize Palestinian property, saying they were tantamount to terrorists and their attacks could fan sectarian violence.

The move followed the arrest of a 22-year Israeli from an Orthodox Jewish town near Tel Aviv for the vandalism of a Christian monastery in the occupied West Bank last year. The attack was carried out in solidarity with hardline Jewish settlers.

Graffiti left on the 19th-century Latrun Monastery referred to Migron, an unauthorized settler outpost evacuated by the Israeli government. The words “Jesus is a monkey” were also daubed on the wall in Hebrew, and the monastery’s doors torched.

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said those suspected in so-called “Price Tag” incidents would now be subject to measures such as longer detentions and denial of access to lawyers while under interrogation – measures akin to those used by Israel’s security services in tackling Palestinian militants.

“Price Tag perpetrators’ conduct is identical to the conduct of modern terrorist groups, including ideological inspiration and covert action,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.

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