Escalation in Violence Targeting Palestinians, Israeli-Arabs and Israeli Peace Activists

Ten Israelis – five Arab citizens and five Jewish peace activists – were victims of hate crimes over the weekend. All ten were hospitalized with cuts, lacerations, fractures, and other injuries of various severity after being attacked by Israeli Jews.

Near Haifa, three Israeli Arab citizens, were sitting on the beach enjoying the last day of the Muslim holiday, when a man approached them and asked in Hebrew if they were Arabs. They replied that yes, hey were Arabs. Minutes later, the man returned with nine others. They were armed with metal rods, chains, clubs and knives and attacked them. One of the three, Dr. Muhammad Yousefeen, is a physician. One of his friends is a medical nurse.

In the West Bank, near Hebron, a large group of settlers from Mitzpe Yair, an illegal outpost, attacked peace activists with Ta’ayush (Coexistence) who were documenting acts of vandalism against residents of a neighboring Palestinian village. Five of the activists, all Israeli Jews, were hospitalized.

In Binyamina, south of Haifa, two Israeli Arab contractors were attacked by five Israeli Jews carrying knives and clubs. According to a police report, the attack was not a hate crime, but the two Arabs, who were taken to the hospital with cuts and bruises, said the attackers called them “Arab terrorists.”

These attacks are not isolated. Accompanying them is a surge in hate crimes by West Bank settlers against Palestinians (known as “Price Tag” attacks), as documented by Israeli human rights organizations.

These attacks don’t come in a vacuum. Israeli politicians – mostly from the extreme right, but not only – have in recent days contributed verbal attacks to an already toxic anti-Arab environment, intensified by the recently-passed Nation-State Law. Other than President Reuven Rivlin, not one right-wing Israeli politician, not one member of the Cabinet, condemned any of these attacks.

We are alarmed by this further deterioration in attitudes and actions against West Bank Palestinians, Arab citizens of Israel, and Israeli peace activists.

We call on Israeli law-enforcement authorities to find the perpetrators and bring them to justice, and urge Israeli leaders to stop fomenting hatred. We also call on our fellow American Jewish organizations to join us in condemning these crimes.