Police Bust Gang of Arab ‘Agricultural Terrorists’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Firefighters work to put out a fire that broke out in Kibbutz Migdal Oz in Gush Etzion, in 2016. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

Dozens of police and Border Guards overnight Sunday arrested a gang of Arab thieves from the Jericho area who were responsible for theft and acts of terror against farms and moshavim throughout Israel. The gang was caught after they stole a tractor from a farm in southern Israel.

Police said they have been searching for the gang for months, and their arrest is part of a crackdown by police and security forces against “agricultural terror” – attacks by Arabs on Israeli farms and herds – that have become commonplace. According to Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, recent efforts have reduced such incidents by 20 percent in recent months.

The problem of agricultural terror was highlighted in recent weeks by several high profile incidents in recent weeks, including a major fire in a packing house in the Galilee town of Yesod Hamaalah that caused damage of NIS 10 million. Another attack on Kibbutz Revivim in the south destroyed millions of shekels worth of produce.

The attacks generally take place for two reasons – Arab gangs demanding “protection” money from Jewish farmers, using organized crime tactics to extort money, and for nationalistic reasons. The attack on Revivim was seen as an example of the latter, with Bedouin taking revenge on Jews after the state demolished illegal structures in the neighboring illegal village of Bir Hadj.

Overnight Sunday, security officials said they arrested 5 wanted security suspects in other areas in Yehudah and Shomron. The suspects were wanted for participating in rioting and throwing stones and firebombs that endangered Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers. Several of the suspects were also charged with belonging to Hamas. All were being questioned on their activities by security forces.