Israel toughens law against anti-Palestinian vandals

JERUSALEM Sun Jun 16, 2013 4:28pm EDT

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel approved new measures on Sunday against Jewish ultranationalists who vandalise Palestinian property in a drive to mire security forces in sectarian violence in the occupied West Bank.

Saying they sought to avenge attacks on Jewish settlers, the vandals have torched and spray-painted Palestinian mosques and cars and chopped olive trees in so-called "Price Tag" raids. Churches and Arab property inside Israel have also been hit.

With their potential for upending the West Bank's relative quiet should Palestinians strike back, and for discouraging any future Israeli evacuation of unapproved settlements, the incidents worry Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightist government. But arrests and prosecutions have been rare.

Netanyahu's security cabinet said in a statement it had empowered the Defence Ministry to designate "Price Tag" vandals as members of "illicit organisations", which would in turn "significantly expand the investigative and prosecutorial tools available to the security forces and law-enforcement".

The statement did not elaborate. An official told Reuters the decision would could effectively bring Israel's handling of Price Tag suspects into line with its crackdowns on Palestinian militants, entailing longer detentions and jail sentences as well as more intrusive surveillance and interrogations.

The Justice Ministry was separately seeking parliamentary ratification defining Price Tag attacks as "terrorism", alongside Palestinian and other politically motivated attacks on Israelis, the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Alison Williams)

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Comments (2)
matt416 wrote:
That about does it then! Peace and equality for Palestinians is from now on assured. Since these were the only Israelis to ever mistreat and exploit the Palestinians, the two sides will probably become best buds.

Jun 16, 2013 5:35pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
aselim wrote:
every body has to think again, who is vandal?
people who are trying to live in their own country or people who are occupying??

Jun 16, 2013 6:03pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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