23 August 2012

Israeli extremists blamed for 228 attacks in 2011

Israelis stand next to a pile of weapons turned in by Jewish settlers in 2005.

AFP | 06.01.2012 | NEDERLANDS

Jewish extremists carried out 228 attacks on the Israeli security forces operating in the West Bank in 2011, a senior police official told MPs in remarks published on Friday by Haaretz newspaper.

Speaking to the parliamentary committee on constitution, law and justice, commander Haim Rahamim said 2011 was the first year in which police kept separate numbers for attacks on the security forces by Israelis.

Rahamim, who heads the West Bank police's intelligence division, also said they had filed 65 indictments against extremists suspected of assault or for causing property damage in so-called "price tag" attacks.

A police source contacted by AFP confirmed the accuracy of the report.

He also made reference to the rising number of arson attacks on West Bank mosques, saying that police had carried out arrests but were unable to press charges given the lack of evidence.

"Price tag" is a euphemism for a revenge hate crime by Israeli extremists which normally target Palestinians and Arabs, but which recently have also been directed at left-wing activists and the army.

The attacks, which generally take place in the West Bank, tend to involve the vandalism or destruction of Palestinian property, and have included several arson attacks on mosques.

Last month, a mob of angry settlers attacked an army base in the northern West Bank, vandalising vehicles in an act which deeply angered the Israeli leadership.

Such attacks have generally been carried out in response to state activity to remove unauthorised settlement outposts.

Rahamim's remarks were made a day after police issued restraining orders against 12 extremists suspected of attacking Palestinians and Israeli troops, barring them from entering the West Bank for between three and nine months.

The Palestinians say Israel has failed to pursue attackers and only began to take action after Israeli military personnel and property was affected.

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