West Bank Israeli Jews say there has been a recent spate of palestinian vandalism on property belonging to Jewish farmers, and an Haaretz investigation has found evidence of arson, sabotage of equipment and destruction of crops. The farmers claim that the police are not designating their complaints as high priority, because they do not fall under the rubric of “hostile terrorist activity.” Settlers put the damage from vandalism in the tens of millions of shekels for which they are not compensated, because state authorities recognize only damage sustained in “a hostile act against Israel.”
Israeli Jews complain that irrigation systems are prime targets for repeated vandalism by arab shepherds, who slice the pipes to water their flocks, and by palestinian farmers or others who tap into these systems for free water. In the course of a protest march by leftists, anarchists and arabs on August 22, dozens broke into Shlomi Cohen’s vineyard at Neria and uprooted some 5,000 vine saplings. On October 17, a left-wing activist was caught along with arabs from the West Bank in the act of setting several fires around Havat Gilad.
According to the report, investigations in these cases sometimes take an unexpected turn, when arabs under interrogation for committing terrorist attacks reveal they were also involved in sabotaging Jewish farmers’ property.The report claims that nothing is being done to deter “potential Arab offenders,” and that police officers respond slowly to complaints of vandalism.