JERUSALEM: Suspected Jewish extremists fired a pair of tear gas canisters into the home of a Palestinian family in the West Bank early on Tuesday and sprawled the word “revenge” in Hebrew on the house, Israeli police said.
The family was asleep and unharmed in attack, said police spokeswoman Luba Samri, adding that an investigation was underway.
Jewish extremists have for years vandalized or set fire to Palestinian property, as well as mosques, churches, the offices of dovish Israeli groups and even Israeli military bases. The so-called “price tag” attacks seek to exact a cost for Israeli steps seen as favoring the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged “zero tolerance” for such attacks and Israel has authorized a series of steps, including administrative detention, to help stamp out the trend.
“There is Arab terrorism that we deal with and combat day and night in every arena, but unfortunately from time to time there are also acts of terror committed by Jews,” Netanyahu said Tuesday. “We will not accept terror from any side.”
Tuesday’s attack in a village near Ramallah comes as Israel says it has made significant progress in the investigation of the most notorious of these attacks, a July firebombing that killed a Palestinian toddler and his parents in the village of Duma.
That attack prompted widespread condemnation and pledges by Israel’s government to get tougher on Jewish vigilantes. Even with the stepped-up measures, Israel has been unable to charge those responsible for the deadly attack. In recent weeks, anger has been rising among far-right activists who object to the arrests and interrogation of the suspected attackers. Some have claimed that Israel’s Shin Bet security service has tortured them to exact a confession for an attack that was deeply embarrassing for Israel.
In Tuesday’s attack, in addition to the word “revenge,” the graffiti also said “regards from the detainees of Zion” — a possible reference to those who have been arrested as suspects.
Cabinet Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, told Israel’s Army Radio that he will not tolerate Jewish extremist attacks.
“We have to employ the firmest hand possible in order to prevent the next Duma,” the village where the July attack happened, he said.
Bennett also added that the “Shin Bet protects us every day from the Palestinians, and we have to rely on the same Shin Bet now.”
The remarks come as the region is embroiled in three months of near-daily Palestinian attacks that have killed 19 Israelis and an American Jewish student. At least 116 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, of which Israel says 79 were assailants. The rest were killed in clashes with Israeli forces.
Israel blames the violence on incitement by political and religious leaders. Palestinians say the attacks stem from despair over nearly half a century of Israeli military occupation.
Also Tuesday, Israel returned the bodies of two women who it said were assailants to Palestinian authorities. The military said Tharwat Sharawi, 73, sped toward a group of soldiers at a Hebron gas station before they shot at her car, killing her in early November. It said Maram Hassouna, 19, tried to stab a soldier on Dec. 1 near an eastern West Bank checkpoint. Soldiers shot and killed her.
The two were buried in modest funerals.
Issa Qaraqe, Palestinian minister of prisoner affairs, said Israel has not returned the bodies of 52 others. Israel’s Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan has said Israel holds the bodies of suspected attackers to prevent large funerals from erupting into “an exhibition of support for terror and incitement to murder.”