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Israel's best-known writer calls price taggers neo-Nazis

One of Israel's best-known writers, Amos Oz, described on Friday perpetrators of the racist 'price tag' crimes in Israel and the occupied West Bank as neo-Nazis.

The writer was speaking at an event marking the 75th anniversary of the establishment of Israel. He said, "I cannot stand to hear the term price tag. Price tag is a sweet, sugary nickname, and the time has come to call this monster by its name."

"There is nothing that the neo-Nazis in Europe do that these groups do not do," he added.

Oz went on to compare neo-Nazis in Europe with those in Israel. "Perhaps the only difference is that our neo-Nazi groups [in Israel] enjoy the backing of numerous nationalist lawmakers, racists, and rabbis who give them a foundation that is pseudo-religious," he said.

This description came on the same day price taggers vandalised the Romanian Orthodox Church St. George in Jerusalem. "Price tag… King David for the Jews… Jesus is garbage" was spray-painted in Hebrew on the wall of the church.

Israeli official media reports showed a two hundred per cent spike in such hate tags since the start of 2014. In a report, Israeli newspaper Ha'aretz noted that the Israeli intelligence service Shabak considers Jewish settlement Yitzhar as a centre for extremist right wing settlers.

The report suggested that the background ideology for these settlers comes from the sayings of the rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburg, whose followers are concentrated in Yitzhar.

Ginsburg is known for calling for revenge from the Palestinians through committing crimes similar to the one committed by Baruch Goldstein, who massacred Muslims in the Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994.

The report noted that there are many rabbis similar to Ginsburg and that most of the extreme settlers are concentrated in Yitzhar and the settlements around the West Bank cities of Ramallah and Hebron.

Officially, most of the crimes carried out by these settlers – including setting fire to mosques and Palestinian properties – go unpunished. Ha'aretz reports said that the Israeli police do not put pressure on the extremist right wing activists in Yitzhar and its surroundings.

Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni on Friday morning blasted the recent wave of attacks, saying: "There is a hard-core, ideological group, based in Judea and Samaria [occupied West Bank], in certain settlements, who want to prevent us from living here in any reasonable way."

Writing on her Facebook page on Wednesday, Livni said: "What began as the love of the land turned into a Wild West, sown with hatred against the Arabs and against the rule of law."

Former Shin Bet chief Carmi Gillon has previously attributed the increase of price tag crimes to the unwillingness of the Israeli government to face those extremist settlers.

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