Israeli police launch hate crime probe after mosque and cars vandalised in Palestinian town

Israeli police launch hate crime probe after mosque and cars vandalised in Palestinian town
Israeli police are investigating an alleged 'price tag' attack on a Palestinian town in which cars were attacked and buildings emblazoned with racist graffiti.
3 min read
12 December, 2019
Racist slogans were scrawled on buildings in Manshiya Zabda [Twitter]
Vandals in northern Israel slashed the tyres of some 20 cars and scrawled anti-Palestinian and anti-Muslim slogans on buildings in a majority Palestinian town, overnight on Wednesday, in an incident being investigated as a hate crime.

Police said that the vandals in the Jezreel Valley town of Manshiya Zabda had drawn a Star of David on one of the cars, and written "Arabs enemies expel or kill" and insults about the Prophet Muhammad in Hebrew on nearby buildings, including at the entrance to a mosque.

A video of a group of masked attackers slashing tyres as they walked down a street in Manshiya Zabda was circulated on social media.

The incident bore the hallmark of a "price tag" attack, a euphemism for Jewish nationalist hate crimes that generally target Palestinian property in revenge for attacks against Israelis.

Police said they "denounce all nationalistic hate crimes and will use all its means and cooperation with other bodies to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice".

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Thursday's incident comes just three days after suspected Jewish extremists vandalised some 160 Palestinian cars in east Jerusalem. 

Neither police nor Israel's internal security agency, the Shin Bet, would say whether they thought the two crimes were linked. 

Palestinians constitute around 20 percent of the population of the state of Israel, mainly descendants who remained on their land in 1948, when Zionist militias forcibly expelled the vast majority of Palestinians from what is now Israel.

They have regularly suffered discrimination in Israel in areas such as housing, healthcare, and education. The 2019 Israeli "nation-state" law stated that only Jewish citizens of Israel have the right to self-determination in Israel.

As well as passing the nation-state law, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has himself propounded anti-Arab sentiment against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

In his recent election campaign in September, he persuaded reticent voters to take to the polls, warning them that Palestinians citizens of Israel were turning out in record numbers would and potentially sway the vote away from their interests.

Many have accused the police of neglecting to protect Palestinian communities in Israel.

In 2018, around 70 percent of cases in which Palestinians were killed were closed without a conviction, activists say, fuelling further resentment over Israeli police indifference.

"A racist government has neglected us and the police have abandoned our neighbourhoods to gangs and criminals," Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint List party said at a recent protest against a gun violence epidemic among Palestinian communities in Israel.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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