The Latrun Monastery
Latrun Monastery
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Danny Dayan
Photo: Gil Yohanan
'Price tag' vandals consistently escape prosecution
Latrun Monastery arson joins dozens of similar cases in past few years, but hardly any indictments have been filed. Yesha Council chairman blames Shin Bet

Hate messages, arson and no indictments: Dozens of "price tag" acts, which have taken place in the past few years, have resulted in just a few indictments in what has been described by Yesha Council chairman as a "complete failure by the Shin Bet."


The investigation of the Latrun Monastery arson case, which is being handled by the polcie's International Crimes Unit, may lead to a different outcome, but the data reveals an obvious trend.


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Among the most notable cases are the mosque arson in Beit Fajr in October 2011, the raid on the Binyamin Spatial Brigade and mosque arsons in the villages of Qusra and Burqa earlier last year.



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Similar incidents were also recorded in the past three months in Neve Shalom, Kafr Jaba and Jelazon. No indictments or arrests were made. In fact, only a small number of indictments have been filed in relation to "price tag" incidents in the past few years, in sharp contrast to the growing scope of the phenomenon itself.


While Rightist elements strongly condemned the Latrun arson as well as the "price tag" phenomenon in general, they also pointed fingers at Israel's security forces.


"It's unacceptable that the Shin Bet produces zero indictments and 100% failures," Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan charged.


Damage at the Latrun Monastery (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)


Considered by many as the settlers' main representative, Dayan added that "this corrupt phenomenon has followed us for years."


He further added: "There have been at least seven cases of mosque arsons, countless car arsons, including those of police cars, the throwing of stones, firebombs and hate messages. It's inconceivable that our glorified Shin Bet cannot handle these groups of thugs."


"One can count the indictments on one hand and still have fingers left. It creates a feeling of impunity and also gives way for conspiracy theories."



Considered a moderate among the settlers, Dayan admitted that the settler leaders' silence throughout the years served to encourage the vandals. He added that the method of restraining orders is not effective. "It's time that the Shin Bet produces results."


Easy targets

Churches and monasteries have long become a favored target for "price tag" vandals, but the heads of the Catholic Church in Israel fail to see the link between Migron and the Latrun Monastery. "It's an easy target that makes no sense," a source told Ynet.


The Council of Bishops in Israel, to which the Latrun Monastery belongs to and which represent that Latin Church, denounced the act.


Father David Neuhaus, a Jesuit Catholic priest who serves as the Patriarchal Vicar, expressed his concern, as well: "This series of events, which has been going on for month, where Christian sites are being targeted.


"We have to ask what's going on and why would someone who seeks revenge over the government policy on Migron or other settlements would think they have the right to attack Christians.


"The Latrun Monastery has prayers services in French and the monks learn Hebrew so they can be respectful towards Israeli visitors," he stressed.


Acting Jerusalem Police Chief Manny Yitzhaki told Ynet that "There are various individuals involved. We are sparing no effort in the investigation, on both the district and national levels, to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice.


"I wouldn’t say this was an escalation, but this is a very serious event meant to harm the fabric of relation with this sector."


"People are naturally shaken and afraid, because ('price tag') acts are now everywhere," a source at the Interior Ministry's Religious Denominations department told Ynet.


"The heads of the communities speak of an overall uneasy feeling. We're very worried about this because it's getting worse. This has to be dealt with both though education as well as punitively," he said.


Noam (Dabul) Dvir contributed to this report




First published: 04.09.12, 15:53
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