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Old (Molotov) cocktails in new bottles? “Price-tag” and settler violence in Israel and the West Bank


Terrorism and Political ViolenceJournal abstract

In the early morning of July 31, 2015, masked attackers threw fire- bombs into two Palestinian homes in the West Bank village of Duma, south of Nablus, killing three Palestinian civilians. Contrary to claims by Israeli and Palestinian politicians, this attack was neither an isolated anomaly nor just another incident of settler violence. Instead, it was the latest attack in an important but largely unknown phenomenon called “price-tag,” in which a loosely connected group of young Israelis called “hilltop youth” burn Palestinian mosques and destroy property in hundreds of attacks accompanied by threatening graffiti that references Israeli settlers, outposts, and anti-Arab slogans. Using an original dataset of price-tag incidents and interviews with key actors, we demonstrate that the perpetrators, targets, and strategies of price-tag are different than previous patterns of settler violence. Whereas previous settlers saw the Israeli state as legitimate and largely decided to cooperate with it, the hilltop youth have decided to confront it by using price-tag attacks to deter settlement withdrawals and chain-gang the state into a conflict with the Palestinians. This analysis of the strategic logic of price-tag reveals its potential to shift the political landscape within and between Israelis and Palestinians.

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