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Suspected settler vandalism in East Jerusalem

June 14, 2013 1:05 P.M. (Updated: June 16, 2013 8:06 A.M.)
JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Suspected Jewish extremists torched two Palestinian cars in East Jerusalem and scrawled graffiti nearby, a police spokesman told AFP on Friday, in the latest "price tag" attack.

"Overnight there were two vehicles that were burnt in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood," Micky Rosenfeld said.

"Police arrived at the scene and searched the area for suspects, they also discovered graffiti on the wall (that read) 'price tag'," said Rosenfeld. "An official investigation has been opened."

Price tag is the term given to extremist hate crimes by Israeli settlers which generally target Palestinians.

Initially carried out against Palestinians in retaliation for state moves to dismantle unauthorized settler outposts, such attacks have become a much broader phenomenon unrelated to any anti-settlement moves.

They tend to involve the vandalism or destruction of property and have included arson attacks on cars, mosques and olive trees, but also target holy Christian sites and have even reached Israeli army bases.

Earlier this week, a police official told a parliamentary committee that in 2012 they had opened 623 files on price tag incidents, arrested 200 people and served 123 indictments in connection with such attacks.

This year, the official said, police had opened 165 files on attacks, arrested 76 suspects and served 31 indictments, stressing that these crimes were considered ideologically motivated "nationalistic crimes" and were a "top priority" for police.

On Thursday, attackers desecrated graves in a Palestinian Christian cemetery in Jaffa, and two weeks ago anti-Christian graffiti was daubed on the Church of the Dormition, one of Jerusalem's leading pilgrimage sites.

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