Police on Thursday said they had arrested two individuals in what they said was a “protection racket” scheme in the northern town of Rosh Pina. The two were arrested in connection with mass damage done to stores in a shopping mall in the city earlier this week. The two are residents of the Arab village of Tuba Zangria, located near Rosh Pina.
On Monday morning, merchants at the mall arrived for work to find that windows of their stores had been broken, and that some items had been looted.
The damage at the Khan shopping center affected 16 stores. In their initial investigation, police determined that the actions had been taken by a criminal gang which had apparently gotten into financial disputes with the businesses over “protection money” – cash that the businesses were required to pay to ensure that thugs did not do damage to their businesses.
Rosh Pina Mayor Moti Hatiel said that businesses would not pay. “We will not submit to economic terrorism, and that is exactly what this is – financial terrorism designed to harm the economy, tourism, and personal safety of residents of Rosh Pina. I trust police to act against these criminals. I call on local people and Israelis in general to continue to visit our city. We will not surrender to this form of terrorism,” Hatiel said.