Daily Israel Report

Indictments Accuse Havat Gilad Residents of 'Price Tag' Attacks

Yehuda Landsberg and 2 other men from Havat Gilad accused of arson, vandalism in Palestinian Arab towns.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 2/5/2014, 4:03 PM

Yehuda Landsberg
Yehuda Landsberg
Courtesy of the family

Indictments were filed Wednesday in the Lod District Court against three residents of Havat Gilad (Gilad farm) - Yehuda Landsberg (25), Yehuda Savir (22) and Binyamin Richter (23) - on charges of committing "price tag" attacks against Palestinian Arabs. 

The three are charged with several offenses: conspiracy to commit a crime motivated by racism or hostility towards the public, arson, destruction of land motivated by racism or hostility towards the public, attempted arson, and attempted vandalism motivated by racism or hostility to the public.

The men had been held for several weeks without charge and were denied access to their families or legal representation for much of the time, amid allegations of abuse by authorities.

The indictments, which were filed by Attorney Ro'i Reis of the Legal Advisory for the Central District, accuse the three of leaving the farm in the dead of night on November 18, 2013, to commit random acts of vandalism and arson in a nearby Palestinian Arab village.

The defendants succeeded and arrived at the Arab village of Madama, a 90 minute walk, the indictment claims. There, they allegedly tried to set fire to wooden boards and support beams in place for a new home being built and attempted to cause more damage with stones, but failed to cause any significant damage. 

Later, at roughly 3 a.m. on November 19, the defendants reached the outskirts of the village of Far'ata, according to the indictment. They donned masks and gloves and came bearing spray paint and flammable materials. 

The indictment then claims that the three ignited a Volvo and a Mercedes, tagged the scene with Star of David graffiti, and then high-tailed back to Gilad Farm. The document requests that the three be given the maximum punishment for their crimes. 

Shin Bet Director Yoram Cohen admitted Tuesday that catching the perpetrators of "price tag" attacks is extremely difficult, since far from being a centralized movement, such attacks are usually the work of individuals.

Evidence has also surfaced that Palestinian Arabs have been regularly staging "price tag" attacks to frame local Jews. 

For that reason, locals have voiced skepticism at the charged, also noting that the distance between the three places is far, at least using conventional roads - some 3 hours and 37 minutes on foot. 

Map: A, Havat Gilad; B, Madama; C, Fa'rata Google Maps/Screenshot

The news is the latest development in the strange case, in which all 3 men have been detained by the Shin Bet for over a week, and were denied access to legal counsel for several days. Landsberg's wife Emunah released an open letter Tuesday asking why he has been targeted by the internal security agency.