Israeli security sources have warned of a possible fresh wave of "price tag" attacks by Jewish extremists against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, Israeli media has reported.
According to the Israeli Broadcast Authority, security sources speaking on condition of anonymity warned of the possibility of "dangerous" settler attacks, similar to a deadly 2015 arson attack on a Palestinian family in the West Bank village of Duma.
In July of 2015, Israeli settlers torched the Dawabsheh family's home near Nablus, killing Saad and Riham Dawabsheh and their 18-month-old baby. According to the broadcaster, 2018 saw a precipitous rise in settler attacks against West Bank Palestinians.
The security sources were quoted as saying that the failure of Israeli courts to issue strong sentences against members of "price tag" groups had "resulted in the continuation of the group's activities."
The Palestinian government recently said that a convoy carrying Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah faced a settler attack near Nablus last week. "The convoy was attacked by a group of stone-throwing Jewish settlers near the Zatara checkpoint," a government statement read.
According to Israeli figures, Jewish "price tag" attacks in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, rose by 60 percent last year compared to 2017. "Price tag" vandalism is a strategy used by extremist Jewish settlers to attack Palestinians and their property in retaliation for perceived threats to Israeli settlement expansion.
More than 650,000 Jewish settlers now live in 196 settlements built with the Israeli government's approval while 200 more live on unapproved "outposts" across the West Bank, according to Palestinian figures.
Settlements are one of the most heated issues facing the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, frozen since 2014. The international community regards all Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories to be illegal and a major obstacle to Middle East peace. The area, captured by Israel in 1967, is not sovereign Israeli territory, and Palestinians there are not Israeli citizens and do not have the right to vote. Some 500,000 Israelis live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, areas that are also home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians. Palestinians have long argued that Israeli settlements could deny them a viable and contiguous state.