border police 88.
(photo credit: )
Despite its somewhat fearsome reputation, it seems the behavior of the Border Police is improving.
Unit Head Commander Hasin Faris said on Wednesday that the number of files against members of the force at the Police Investigative Department (PID) plummeted by 100 in 2005 to 73, while the number of complaints fell 36 percent to 187.
Faris attributed the drop to the investment in training that emphasized values.
"There is a stress on patience, respect for one's fellow man, reason and determination," he told the Border Police's annual conference.
Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra indicated that despite its reputation, he didn't believe the Border Police used too much violence.
"When someone is using force against you, you need to use reasonable force," he said. "I salute the Border Police. I think it did extraordinary work last year," he added.
In 2005, the Border Police's elite units killed 28 terrorists and caught 218, while they also arrested more than 1,300 people who were on the Shin Bet's (Israel Security Agency) wanted list.
In total, the Border Police made more than 8,400 criminal arrests in 2005, up from just over 7,500 a year earlier. It also impounded 65.5 tons of smuggled tobacco and over 8,300 kilograms of marijuana and hashish, as well just under 200 kilograms of cocaine and heroin. Faris believes that the Border Police, which mans the border with Egypt, intercept 40%-50% of the goods and people smuggled into Israel.
On a negative note, three border policemen were killed on operational duty while 404 were wounded, with the force being fired at 121 times and encountering 1,200 instances of stone-throwing.
The Border Police made a big contribution to the disengagement from Gaza in August. In February, it took part in the evacuation and demolition of nine houses in the outpost of Amona.
While the withdrawal from Gaza was relatively peaceful, the Amona operation turned violent after thousands of protesters attempted to prevent the evacuation, and over 250 people were injured. Despite the clashes, Hasin said the police's "use of force was reasonable."
At the conference, Ezra met police commander Moshe Mizrahi in public just a week after launching a withering attack against him in the Knesset committee set up to probe the violence at Amona.
Ezra said that sometimes "it is necessary to tell the truth." Mizrahi replied that the comments shouldn't have been made in public.