JISH, Israel (AFP) — Dozens of cars in an Israeli Arab village were vandalized overnight, police said Tuesday, with slogans sprayed on a mosque indicating the involvement of Jewish extremists.
The slogans "Jews awaken" and "Stop assimilating" were scrawled on a mosque and another building in Jish, a small village in the Galilee just south of Israel's border with Lebanon.
Police said they were investigating the incident, which they condemned along with "all nationalistic hate crimes."
Jish council head Elias Elias said the tires of more than 150 cars were punctured.
He said it was not the first time the mixed Muslim and Christian village had been targeted and asked what the reaction would have been if the place of worship defiled had not been a mosque.
"I can only imagine what would happen if things like this would have been sprayed on a synagogue in the U.S. or Europe," he said. "The whole world would be in an uproar."
The incident bore the hallmark of a "price tag" attack — a euphemism for Jewish nationalist-motivated hate crimes targeting Palestinians and Arab Israelis and their property, as well as Muslim and Christian holy sites.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "firmly condemned" the Jish vandalism and slogans, vowing to "find the outlaws and bring them to justice.
"We won't tolerate any attacks on our citizens," he said in a statement.
The head of the Arab-led Joint List, Ayman Odeh, condemned the attack and blamed Netanyahu’s rhetoric for stoking such hatred.
"For weeks Netanyahu is sending us one message — you're not wanted," Odeh said of Israel's Arab minority. "Today we see the results."
Netanyahu has been accused of using anti-Arab rhetoric in campaigning for Israel's March 2 election, the country's third vote in a year.
Israel has seen a rise in acts of vandalism against Israeli Arabs in recent months, and in December, the tires of 160 cars were slashed in annexed east Jerusalem.
In January, Israeli police launched a manhunt after an apparent arson attack on an east Jerusalem mosque accompanied by Hebrew-language graffiti.
© Agence France-Presse