Settler car bomb near Ramallah redoubles ‘price tag’ attacks

Israel/Palestine
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chemicals car
Explosives planted under Palestinian car. (Photo: Ma’an News)

On Wednesday radical Israeli settlers planted a bomb under a Palestinian car near Ramallah, marking a return to tactics used by clandestine Jewish militias in past decades.

Ma’an News also reported settlers sprayed threatening graffiti near the ethylene, benzene and sulfur bomb:

A group of settlers from Givat Ariel outpost wrote ‘Palestinians should die,’ and ‘Stay away from our lands,’ on a wall in the village, Sinjil mayor Ayoub Swaied said.

graffitti
Graffiti near explosives. (Photo: Ma’an News)

The settlers who sprayed the graffiti and planted the explosives are from Givat Ariel, an illegal outpost situated in the Salfit governorate, not far from Nablus, which was founded in 2003 as the hard right’s response to an impending government demolition of a another illegal settlement. According to a report published earlier this year [PDF] by the Jerusalem Fund, Salfit overtook Hebron in 2010 and 2011 as the governorate with the most violent settler activity.

“In terms of IEDs and explosives tied to cars there is actually a lot of history prior to the years we cover in our report,” said the Jerusalem Fund’s Executive Director Yousef Munayyer. He told me in the 1980s a group known as the Jewish Underground targeted three Palestinian mayors with car bombs, resulting in the mayor of Nablus losing both of his legs and the mayor of Ramallah losing one leg. Despite the severity of their crimes, by 1990 all 27 members of the underground movement were released from prison. The last three were set free on the grounds of “good behavior” after serving less than seven years, although they were convicted for killing two Palestinians in addition to the car bombings.

Still, Munayyer says after the settler-guerrillas were arrested the explosive attacks lulled until 2005. In March of that year Jewish militias resurfaced with a violent organization called the Revenge of the Children, which exploded a bomb in a Palestinian boys school, injuring eight. Two months later an unknown group targeted a girls’ school and a hospital in East Jerusalem. Israeli police uncovered that bomb before it was detonated as two men were planting the device on a sidewalk between the high school and Mukassad hospital. Following the men’s arrest the extremist group Kahane Chai held a vigil for their release and their spokesman, Noam Federman, affirmed the organization’s commitment to maiming Palestinians, “I think the government should put bombs in hospitals but unfortunately the government doesn’t do it, so it is up to the people to do those things.”

Wednesday’s planned explosion does not indicate underground militias are again on the rise. Nonetheless it is significant because the attack marks “price tag” death threats shifting from graffiti to actions.

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