Jewish extremists uproot West Bank olive trees

Suspected Jewish extremists have uprooted dozens of olive trees in a Palestinian-owned field in the West Bank, Israeli police said Saturday.

"Twenty-five olive trees were uprooted and sawn up in a field belonging to Palestinians near Bat Ayin" in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc south of Jerusalem, police spokeswoman Louba Samri told AFP.

She said graffiti reading "price tag" and "Arab thieves" was found at the scene.

"Price tag" is a term used by Israeli extremists for attacks on Palestinians and their property, often in response to Israeli moves to dismantle settlements.

Similar graffiti was found Friday on a Muslim grave near the northern Israeli coastal city of Haifa.

The State Department's 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism included "price tag" attacks for the first time, citing UN figures of some "399 attacks by extremist Israeli settlers that resulted in Palestinian injuries or property damage."

Such attacks were "largely unprosecuted," it said.

On Saturday, a former chief of Israel's domestic intelligence agency, Shin Bet, condemned the refusal of security services to deal with Jewish fringe groups the same way as any terrorist cell.

"In the Shin Bet, the expression 'we can't' does not exist, it's more a case of 'we don't want to'," Carmi Gillon was quoted as saying by public radio.

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