Palestinians say dozens of cars wrecked in settler vandalism

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RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Palestinian eyewitnesses said a group of Israeli settlers vandalized dozens of cars in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday.

A number of witnesses told an Associated Press photographer that Israeli settlers entered the town of al-Bireh near the West Bank city of Ramallah and damaged dozens of parked vehicles.

Cars and walls were spray-painted with Stars of David and Hebrew slogans including the phrase “price tag,” a term used by hard-line settlers in retaliation to perceived efforts by Israel and Palestinians to stop settlement expansion. There were no reports of injuries.

The Israeli army confirmed its forces entered al-Bireh to investigate the incident. Video footage from Palestinian broadcaster Al-Quds TV showed scuffles breaking out between Palestinians and troops, who used tear gas to disperse residents and journalists.

The vandalism comes amid an uptick in settler violence. In October, four Palestinian olive harvesters were lightly injured after being attacked by some 30 settlers who hurled stones and sprayed pepper spray at the workers.

In September, dozens of Israeli settlers ambushed a Bedouin village in the southern West Bank, smashing cars and houses. The attack left several injured, including a Palestinian toddler who was hospitalized with head injuries.

Last month, Israeli authorities approved 3,000 new settler homes in the West Bank. Israel also agreed to build 1,300 housing units for Palestinians residing in areas of the West Bank fully governed by Israel.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war, with the territory now home to more than 2.5 million Palestinians and nearly 500,000 Jewish settlers. The majority of the international community views settlements as an obstacle to peace. Palestinians seek the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as part of their future state.