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'Price Tag,' Incitement Arrests in Yitzhar

Two residents arrested over vandalism, a third for 'inciting violence' against IDF in latest of tensions in Samaria town.
By Ari Yashar
First Publish: 5/27/2014, 4:10 PM

Arrested 'price tag' suspect (file)
Arrested 'price tag' suspect (file)
Flash 90

A crackdown on extremist elements within the Samaria town of Yitzhar continues, as police announced Tuesday that two men from the community were arrested for suspicion of committing "price tag" vandalism crimes.

"Two people from Yitzhar were arrested in connection with an ongoing investigation into suspicions of criminal activity of a nationalistic nature," police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told AFP. He noted that a court order banned giving further details as of now.

Rosenfeld added that a third Yitzhar resident was arrested for "inciting violence" against IDF soldiers, after allegedly posting a statement online supporting physical opposition to soldiers taking part in the demolition of local homes, even if it meant injuring the soldiers.

The arrest brings to mind the case of a 22-year-old pregnant woman from Yitzhar in early May who was arrested on suspicion of incitement, after making statements on a private local internet forum expressing support for throwing rocks against Jews in certain situations, even if it led to the death of soldiers.

The recent arrests follow the arrest of two other Yitzhar residents on Sunday, over suspicions of slashing the tires of roughly 40 cars in a Christian-majority Arab village in Israel's north last month.

Authorities have been grappling with an upsurge in so-called "price-tag" incidents by extremist elements from the community for several months.

Yitzhar has made headlines since clashes with security forces erupted in mid-April, when a house was destroyed by the IDF, sparking tire-slashings of two IDF cars. In response, four local homes were demolished, triggering clashes with local youths and the destruction of an IDF outpost.

But some have accused the police of overreacting. In one case two weeks ago, a woman was detained after the arrest of her teenage son allegedly went nowhere. Her son had been detained the previous week after he and another youth were found with markers and nails in their bags.

Yet another woman was arrested along with her husband in early May because their car was the same model as one allegedly used in a "price tag" vandalism crime. The two reported abuse in detention, as officers told them "you will never see your kids again," and claimed they were deprived of legal representation initially.

In response to what they say is a campaign of character assassination of the town by certain media outlets, Yitzhar residents submitted a complaint to the police in early May over incitement to murder against two prominent journalists, who made statements calling for residents of the town to be murdered.

An Arutz Sheva report in January revealed that in at least some of the cases, anti-Arab "price tags" were being systematically staged by Arab activists.

There have also been numerous incidents of Arab "price tagging", including on the graves of Tannaic scholars in the north and swastikas scrawled on Israeli flags in the heart of Jerusalem, both on the same week as Independence Day. Such incidents receive notably less, if any, media attention.