December 6, 2011
Israel arrests troops for anti-Palestinian vandalism
Three Israeli soldiers were arrested on Tuesday for suspected involvement in pro-settler vandalism and arson, the military said, following a series of attacks in the West Bank that have exacerbated tensions with Palestinians.
Mosques have been torched, graffiti daubed, and Palestinian trees chopped down in the “Price Tag” attacks, so called because they seek to make Palestinians pay for violence against Israelis and the Jewish state pay for its occasional curbs on settlement activity.
Fearing a flare-up in violence, Israel has ordered a police crackdown on the suspected far-right Jewish groups behind the attacks which have also targeted some of Israel’s West Bank garrisons, slashing vehicle tires and defacing property.
Channel Ten TV said the three soldiers were suspected of damaging both Palestinian and Israeli military property.
The arrests are a rare example of conscript troops’ involvement in the Price Tag campaign and a military spokeswoman declined to detail allegations against them, saying that an investigation was under way.
But she said they were taken into custody following the arrest by civilian police on Sunday of a woman and six girls, some of them settlers, for incidents including vandalism of Palestinian trees and army property.
Channel Ten TV said one of three lived in an unauthorized settler outpost, adding that one was also a combat soldier.
Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Ben Harding
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