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Israel arrests settlers suspected of multiple attacks

Dec. 4, 2012 10:59 A.M. (Updated: Dec. 5, 2012 8:44 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Reuters) -- Israeli police arrested three Jewish settlers on Monday whom they suspect of arson and other attacks on Palestinian property in the occupied West Bank.

The men were found carrying fuel and spikes shortly after a car was torched in a Palestinian village near Hebron. A police spokesman said they had appeared to be about to conduct a second attack in another village nearby when they were detained.

Television footage of a burnt car in the village of Dahariya also showed a wall nearby daubed with the Hebrew words "price tag" - a slogan used by right-wing extremists to describe vandalism and violence against Palestinians, usually in the West Bank, in revenge for policies they disagree with.

Other attacks have damaged mosques and civilian buildings, in both the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Police see "a strong possibility they (the suspects) were involved in previous incidents with a nationalistic motive in the past couple of months", spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

"They were arrested before entering another Palestinian village, where we suspected they were going to carry out another attack."

The three, all aged in their 20s, have yet to be charged and were remanded in custody for a week.

It was unclear whether the attack on the car was related to last week's vote in the United Nations General Assembly which accorded Palestine the status of "non-member state". Israel has since announced plans for new settlement building and has rejected calls from the United States and Europe for restraint.

The international community condemns all settlement building, which it considers illegal under international law.

Over 500,000 Israeli settlers live in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in Jewish-only communities which Palestinians say threaten the viability of a promised Palestinian state.

Rights groups say settlers are rarely prosecuted by Israeli authorities for attacks against Palestinians.
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