Police: Tombstone Desecration Hooligans, not 'Price Tag'
Israeli Police on Monday said the desecration of tombstones in a Christian and Muslim graveyard in Yafo (Jaffa) over the weekend probably isn't a 'price tag' attack, Israel's Channel 2 Radio reported.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said investigators had strong suspicions the vandalism and graffiti was the work of teenage soccer hooligans acting out rather than being ideologically motivated, or the work of nationalist activists.
Danino noted, in addition to graffiti that read 'Death to Arabs' and 'Price Tag,' there was also slurs directed at Russian immigrants, and graffiti related to the popular Maccabee Tel Aviv soccer team.
"We view the incident that took place here as a grave one," Danino told Yafo residents. “The incident will be dealt with at the highest level; we will make every effort to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
“Our top people will be devoted to this matter. I ask the community to continue to aspire to coexistence and a shared life while upholding law and order," he vowed.
But Danino stressed the matter was still under investigation and asked the public to reserve judgment until police had concluded their inquiry into the matter.
Danino’s comments came on the heels of automatic condemnations of nationalists and Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria for the incident by left-wing politicians and activists.
Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer told Channel 2 after the incident, "settlers and right-wing extremists; are doing everything to push the region into a religious war."
MK Zahava Gal-On (Meretz) called for Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch to establish a special task force to crack down on what she described as "racist hate crimes” and claimed the Yafo incident was linked directly to "crimes across the Green Line by settlers."
Gal-On added she believed the first order of such a task force in rooting out the problem was to target "incitement by rabbis” in the nationalist camp.
Prime Minister Netanyahu condemned the desecration of the graveyard in Yafo in an official statement, but limited his furor to vandalism "directed against religious feelings" without singling any particular group out for blame.
"We will respond to all attacks, especially those on co-existence, and will bring the full weight of the law to bear on those responsible," the PMO statement said, adding Netanyahu had instructed security forces to bring those responsible with all due haste.
MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) told Channel 2 he believed the incident was likely the work of soccer hooligans, but did not flinch from condemning the incident saying it was "severe" and necessitated a sharp response from authorities.
At the same time, Eldad blasted Gal-On and her political confederates saying "the fiery leftists and their representatives in the Israeli media" were “hurrying to sling mud and assassinate the character of all settlers."