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Israel cops arrest 7 minors over hate attacks

05 May 2014, 15:05

Jerusalem - 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 an Arab village west of Jerusalem on Sunday, spokesperson 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.

"Price tag" is the euphemism for nationally-motivated hate crimes by Jewish extremists which predominantly target Palestinian and Arab property, but have also included attacks on other non-Jews as well as leftwing Israelis or the security forces.

Such attacks tend to involve vandalism and trademark racist graffiti in Hebrew.

All seven suspects are to be brought before a judge on Monday to extend their remand in custody, Samri said.

Arson attack

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 an Israeli mosque last month, public radio said.

Such racist attacks began sporadically several years ago with West Bank settlers seeking to exact a "price" for state moves against illegal settlement outposts.

But since then, they have spread into Israel, with acts of nationally-inspired vandalism now an almost daily occurrence, heaping pressure on the authorities to act.

Despite hundreds of arrests, hardly anyone has been prosecuted.

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".


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