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Israeli settler rabbi slams 'price tag' violence

Sept. 19, 2011 10:41 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 21, 2011 9:36 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- A prominent settler rabbi on Monday slammed so-called "price tag" acts of violence against Palestinians and the Israeli army, saying they undermined Jewish presence in the occupied West Bank.

"We condemn the actions termed 'price tag' against the IDF [Israeli army], mosques and innocent Arabs," says a petition penned by Rabbi Yaakov Medan, one of the heads of the Har Etzion yeshiva, or Jewish seminary, near the southern town of Bethlehem.

"These deeds are totally unacceptable from a moral and national perspective, and endanger the entire settlement movement in Judea and Samaria," it reads, using the biblical term for the West Bank.

Hardline settlers have adopted what they call a "price tag" policy under which they attack Palestinians and their property in response to Israeli government measures against settlements.

Israeli troops and police this month demolished three homes in the settlement outpost of Migron, spurring a wave of attacks against Palestinian property, including an attempt to torch a mosque.

Unidentified vandals also attacked vehicles at an Israeli military base near Ramallah, slashing tyres and spraying them with the words "price tag" and pouring sugar into fuel tanks.

Medan is one of the most prominent national-religious rabbis in Israel and has been an outspoken opponent of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

"We wish to strengthen the IDF in its actions against this atrocious lawlessness, that undermines the basis of our existence here," Medan wrote, urging settlers to do everything "to prevent such deeds" and expose those behind them.

"This mode of action -- harming innocent people, burning mosques -- cannot be tolerated," he told AFP.

"I understand their frustrations and resentment but they have crossed all the red lines," he said.

So far, Israeli police, who are responsible for all settler-related issues, have questioned several people over the attacks but no-one has been arrested.

"We are here to stay and can live with most of the Arabs in peace and good neighbourly relations."
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