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3 cars torched, mosque defaced in West Bank

By Paul Colsey, CNN
January 11, 2012 -- Updated 1105 GMT (1905 HKT)
Jewish rightwing protestors demonstrate in support of a comrade arrested over 'price tag' crimes in Jerusalem on January 3, 2012.
Jewish rightwing protestors demonstrate in support of a comrade arrested over 'price tag' crimes in Jerusalem on January 3, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Deir Istiya's mayor says the village is frequently attacked by settlers
  • Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak calls the attackers "hooligans"
  • The words "price tag Gal Arya Yosef" was spay-painted across the building
  • Arya Yosef is a reference to an illegal settlement authorities recently dismantled

JERUSALEM (CNN) -- Three cars were set ablaze and a mosque was defaced in a Palestinian village in the West Bank, police said.

The words "price tag Gal Arya Yosef" was spray-painted across the Islamic house of worship on Tuesday, according to Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

"Arya Yosef" is a reference to an illegal settlement authorities recently dismantled.

"Price tag" is a term frequently used to describe acts of vandalism by radical Israeli settlers exacting a "price" against Palestinian targets or Israeli security forces in response to actions by the Israeli government to evacuate illegal West Bank outposts.

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The latest incident occurred in the village of Deir Istiya, Rosenfeld said.

No arrests have been made.

Deir Istiya Mayor Nazmi Salman said the assailants were in a red Peugeot car and sprayed slogans "insulting to Muslims and Palestinians."

"This is not the first time Deir Istiya village (has) come under attack by the settlers," Salman said. "Deir Istiya is surrounded by nine Israeli settlements, and we are attacked and harassed by settlers on daily basis."

Salman said settlers released some 300 wild pigs into the farming fields of the village, which destroyed and damaged the seasonal crops of the Palestinian farmers.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the attackers "hooligans."

"The army, the police and security forces will work with full force against these hooligans who are bent on aggravating the fragile situation between Israelis and Palestinians and between the state of Israel and its neighbors," Barak said.

In October, police arrested an 18-year-old man in connection with burning a mosque.

Words written on the mosque include "price-tag, "revenge" and "Palmer."

Authorities said Asher Palmer and his son were killed when rocks thrown at their car near the city of Hebron prompted it to crash.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the number of settler attacks resulting in Palestinian casualties and property damage increased by 40% in 2011 compared to 2010 and by more than 165% compared to 2009.

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