Police on Tuesday were investigating a suspected "price-tag" attack in the Israeli-Arab town of Abu Ghosh in which the tires of 28 vehicles were slashed and derogatory graffiti was scrawled on walls. The Hebrew graffiti said "Arabs out" and "Racism or assimilation."
This marks the first reported "price-tag" incident in Abu Ghosh, where residents are generally known to enjoy good relations with their Jewish neighbors. The town is 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) west of Jerusalem, next to Highway 1, the main thoroughfare between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
"I woke up this morning and discovered that the tires of my vehicle were slashed," a resident of Abu Ghosh said. "Whoever did this is trying to harm the unique coexistence that we have here. There are Jews who live in Abu Ghosh and they are treated wonderfully. It's a great shame that people are coming from the outside and trying to destroy this."
Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) condemned the attack, calling it immoral and un-Jewish.
"There is a small group of sowers of evil who are trying to produce a chain of hatred and violence between Arabs and Jews in our country," Bennett said on his Facebook page.
"We won't allow them to succeed," he said.
The term "price tag" is used to describe acts of vandalism by ultranationalist Jews against Palestinian property and Israeli security forces, usually in revenge for a perceived anti-settler action.
On Sunday, the Diplomatic-Security Cabinet approved new measures to combat the "price-tag" phenomenon. Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon was given the authority to classify price-tag attackers as forming an "unlawful association," which would in turn "significantly expand the investigative and prosecuting tools available to the security forces and law enforcement," the cabinet said in a statement.
According to security sources, the classification of price-tag attackers as unlawful associations will allow security forces to use a wider pool of resources, employ harsher measures and impose tougher penalties to fight the phenomenon.