Haifa Mayor Yona Yahav launched an unprecedented and unproven attack on the Shomron community of Itamar on Sunday.
Yahav, who participated in a panel dealing with the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin at the Eilat Israeli Journalists' Conference, claimed that the so-called “price tag” vandalism acts are being carried out by youth from Itamar.
"Why does the right not conduct an in-depth investigation into how it produces 'wild thorns' such as Yigal Amir, such as the residents of Itamar?" said Yahav.
"Wild thorns" is an expression used to describe radical young people whose behavior is outside the pale and in need of being weeded out.
Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan, who participated in the same panel, grabbed the microphone and demanded Yahav apologize and said, "You are telling vicious lies! Is Rabbi Avichai Ronsky (the head of the yeshiva in Itamar –ed.) a criminal? Do you know what you're talking about? When was the last time you visited Itamar? You are being slanderous.”
Yahav refused to apologize for his comments and reiterated his assertion against the residents of Itamar.
Yossi Dagan, the strategic affairs director of the Shomron Regional Council, then said to Yahav, "Are you talking about the Fogel family? Shame on you, you are inciting and being libelous." Dagan was referring to the five members of the Fogel family, residents of Itamar, who were brutally massacred by terrorists from the nearby Arab village of Awarta in March of 2011.
Dagan then told Yahav that he planned to sue him for slander on behalf of the residents of Itamar.
Itamar’s youth coordinator, Pinchas Michaeli, responded to Yahav’s comments on Sunday night, saying, “We are proud of our way, we do not accept castigation from a person in whose city the heads of IDF soldiers are carved."
Michaeli was referring to an attack by six Arabs on IDF soldiers which took place in Haifa last March.
“Yona Yahav’s words are not worthy of a response unless his words had hurt our youth who are busy every day in carrying out positive deeds and connecting with IDF soldiers and the people of Israel,” said Michaeli.
"Yona Yahav can only envy the dozens of our alumni who fill the ranks of combat units in the IDF and are present wherever they are required to volunteer and contribute,” he added. “I will be happy to provide Yona Yahav with educational counseling for the youth in his city, so that they can even slightly resemble the wonderful youth in our community. We will legally examine Yona Yahav's slander and defamation of our youth and our residents and will act accordingly.”
Last month, a senior official in the Israeli police admitted that most of the ‘price tag’ attacks are not being carried out by Jewish youth from Judea and Samaria, despite them usually being blamed for such attacks.
Judea and Samaria District Police chief Major General Amos Yaakov admitted that "most of the people who carry out these offenses are people who come from outside of Judea and Samaria. This needs to be emphasized. Most of them come from central Israel, from Beit Shemesh or from Tzfat. In one case of a vandalized mosque the main suspect is from Netanya.”
He added, “We know, in at least four cases of arson of mosques, who are the perpetrators. We even matched DNA that was found on a box of matches at one of the mosques that was set on fire - but apparently it was not enough to indict the suspects.”