The Internal Affairs and Environment Committee discussed today the motion for the agenda tabled by Knesset Members Mohammad Barakeh, Isaac Herzog and Ayelet Shaked. The discussion was run by Knesset Member David Tzur, member of the committee, who was filling the place of Knesset Member Miri Regev, the usual chair of committee.
Knesset Member Mohammad Barakeh, one of the initiators of the motion, mentioned that he initiated the motion in response to what happened in the village Umm al-Qutuf in the Northern Triangle on 14.5.13. He said the village was entered by rioters who burned cars and houses. There was also malicious graffiti written on the walls of a mosque. He mentioned that this was not the only ”Price Tag” action at the villages amongst the borders of the Green Line and there has been no progress with police investigation of those actions. Knesset Member Barakah said both the police and the security forces know their job very well and conveys his fear that the state`s systems might be covering for the people who do this. Knesset Member Herzog said he was convinced that those deeds were not covered up. He said a dangerous religious war was being formed and it was said that the police could not find the people responsible and stop them. It has also been said during the discussion that the damage caused between the residents of Retamim and the residents of Dir Adaj was mutual. The people of Dir Adaj throw rocks at the people of Retamim but also some of the people of Retamim take part in actions such as burning tents and hurting the shepherds of the people of Dir Adaj. The head of the Dir Adaj committee, Mr. Abu Chamid Slman said he was opposed to any kind of violence and asked for the police`s involvement at the conflict.
Superintendent Galit Ziv of the police intelligence section said that the offences of the Price Tag activists are considered nationalistic crimes and are at the top priority of the Israeli police. They are reviewed twice a week with the highest ranks. She mentioned that in the year 2012, 623 records have been filed, 200 activists were arrested and 123 indictments have been charged. In the year of 2013, 165 records have been filed, 76 suspects were arrested and 31 indictments have been filed. She said the files were of ideological background and the felonies are spraying graffiti, destruction of agricultural equipment, setting cars on fire and damaging mosques. She also mentioned that a state-wide unit of fighting the Price Tag Policy has been established, headed by Chief Superintendent Udi Levy and that the unit is stationed at the West Bank because most felonies take place there. The ones that took place at the northern district were of high importance and are taken care of by the central unit of the north.
Knesset Member David Tzur commented that it is important to make sure the public knows about the new unit and the seriousness of the treatment of the matter.
Chief Superintendent Udi Levy the head of the unit of fighting ”Price Tag” said there has already been 30 officers drafted to his unit and there is a budget enough to draft 50 more. At the end of the process, the elite unit will consist of 80 police officers. He added that most activity occurs in the West Bank and that the unit is familiar with a group of a few dozen people participating in the ”Price Tag” activity, most of whom are minors. He said there are ten people under arrest until the end of the proceedings against them, since March. Attorney Shlomi Abramzon, of the State Attorney, said that ”Price Tag” is taken care of with the highest level at the State Attorney and that the danger of those felonies is that they are done to create provocation in front of the Arab and Muslim population. According to him, the Criminal Code includes directives on how to take care of the problem, but more means are now required. These demands appear in the bill regarding fighting terrorism. There has also been a use of administrative tools, such as restraining orders and closing down certain educational institutions that encourage Price Tag actions and stopping their support.
Dr. Gadi Gvaryahu, Chair of the ”Tag Meir” organization showed that there is a spiritual guidance by Rabbi Yossi Elitzur of the settlement Yitzhar that encourages their actions. ”There is an underground organization here, and it has a spiritual leadership,” he said.
Mr. Eitan Ben David, head of the Counter-Terrorism Bureau, at the Prime Minister Office, said that ”Price Tag” deserves any sort of condemnation and that the Israeli government and the Prime Minister are taking care of it.
In conclusion of the discussion, said Knesset Member Tzur: ”The subject of ”Price Tag” should not be a matter of different parties, and is not a political issue. Those actions hurt the victims, but also the sovereignty of the state that cannot afford to let the public taking the law into its own hands.” He added, ”The authorities do not turn away from the subject and their treatment towards it is serious and important. He suggested that the police let the public know about the ongoing activity on the matter. He also asked to have a discussion at the confidential committee of the Internal Affairs Committee, where it would also be possible to hear about the activities of the Israel Security Agency. He asked that after the end of the process of establishing the special police unit, there will be a follow up meeting.