Defense Minister Ehud Barak raced Tuesday to slam residents in Judea and Samaria who carry out 'price-tag' attacks saying they "operate almost like terrorist organizations."
"These are events that need to be fought against. They humiliate the State of Israel and harm its strength and the legitimacy of all settlement within it," Barak said. The attacks also harm "Israel's standing and normal relations with our neighbors, the Palestinians."
One source close to the Yesha Council, which itself condemned the attacks, said "Barak seems to forget he's the Defense Minister and not the Foreign Minister. He's more concerned with public relations than security."
Barak's statements appear to be in response to calls by United Nations officials to "stop settler violence" on the heels of arson at a Mosque in Tuba Zangaria in the Galilee, and the desecration of Christian and Muslim tombstones in Yafo.
Despite the hue and cry among the Israeli left and media, who have described these incidents as being the work of 'settlers' carrying out 'price-tag operations,' and UN officials saying they are 'emblemic of settler violence,' the actual facts surrounding the cases remain unclear.
Judge Nitza Maimon Sha'ashua, who presided over the arraignment of the alleged arsonist on Tuesday, described the government's case as "weak," adding that without further evidence she will be disinclined to extend his remand.
Also, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino said Monday his investigators believed the Yafo tombstone desecrations were the work of soccer hooligans rather than being ideologically motivated or the work of ‘settlers.’
Last month, police announced the formation of a special task force to track down and arrest far-right extremists who were behind price tag incidents in Judea and Samaria.
Critics say security officials are investing more energy, resources, and rhetoric in their pursuit of allegedly Jewish vandals in Judea and Samaria than they are on those planning violence against Jewish residents in the region.