Israel police arrest 7 minors over racist attacks
Published Monday 05/05/2014 (updated) 07/05/2014 18:37
Anti-Palestinian graffiti is daubed on a bulldozer on May 5,
2014 near the town of Abu Ghosh.(AFP Ahmad Gharabli)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli police have arrested seven Jewish minors on suspicion of involvement in racist acts and vandalism, police said on Monday.
Four of them between the ages of 13 and 15 are suspected of spraying racist graffiti at a building site by a Palestinian village west of Jerusalem on Sunday, spokeswoman Luba Samri said.
Another three were arrested near Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday for spitting at a priest. In their bags, police found Israeli flags with Hebrew slogans on them, including the words "revenge" and "price tag," she said, without giving their ages.
All seven suspects are to be brought before a judge on Monday to extend their remand in custody, Samri said.
On Sunday, a Jerusalem court extended by three days the detention of a man from the extremist settlement of Yitzhar who was arrested last week with his wife over an arson attack on a mosque in Israel last month, public radio said.
"Burning mosques and churches, desecrating holy books and cemeteries and damaging Arabs' cars have become common phenomena on both sides of the Green Line," said an editorial in Haaretz newspaper by Hussein Abu Hussein, a lawyer who founded the rights group Adalah.
During the first and second Palestinian uprisings (1987-1993, 2000-2005), a single stone thrown at an Israeli bus would see Israel's Shin Bet security services and police investigators acting rapidly to round up, arrest and prosecute those involved, often within hours, he wrote.
"The Arab public -- particularly the youth -- suspiciously wonders on social media why law enforcement’s resourcefulness and speed disappear when it comes to Jewish terror. Why doesn’t the Shin Bet get involved? Is it because the victims are Arab?" he wrote.
Ongoing indifference by the Israel authorities could spark "a religious war" with people taking the law into their own hands to protect their holy places, and could easily end in violence if one of the perpetrators were to be caught in the act of desecrating a mosque, he warned.
Last week, the US State Department for the first time included mention of "price tag" attacks in its global report on terror, saying such incidents were "largely unprosecuted".
On Sunday, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said she would back the idea of defining such acts as "terrorism."
There are hundreds of racist attacks against Palestinians and their property every year, but the perpetrators are rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities.
Ma'an staff contributed to this report