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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra has once again said that he won't allow police officers to appear before the Knesset's Amona investigation committee after the car of an intelligence officer was torched on Friday.
The neighbors of Dep.-Cmdr. Haim Padlon, who lives in Hadera, woke him up in the early hours of the morning when they saw that his car had been set on fire. Padlon is part of the Judea and Samaria Police and is supervising the investigation into the protestors who took part in the violence during the evacuation and demolition of nine houses in Amona at the beginning of February. In the clashes between demonstrators and police, more than 250 people were injured, including over 80 members of the security forces. The Knesset set up a committee to investigate charges of police brutality.
As a result of Friday's attack, police have provided Padlon with a security detail, said Judea and Samaria spokesman Superintendent Moshe Fintzy, who added that there had been no previous threats against the officer.
"There was a general atmosphere. There wasn't specific information," he said. He also disclosed that there have been threats against certain policemen, including less senior ones.
This is the second time that the car of an officer who participated in the evacuation of Amona has been set on fire. Almost a month ago, arsonists torched the vehicle of the deputy commander of Judea and Samaria Police, Lt.-Cmdr. Meir Bokovza.
At the time, police declined to say who they thought was behind the attack, but Ezra had no hesitation in blaming the right wing. He also disclosed that there had been threats against Judea and Samaria Police Chief Cmdr. Yisrael Yitzhak, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, a Border Police commander and a Cavalry Police commander. In addition, unknown attackers released dogs in the yard of an officer who participated in the Amona evacuation.
Fintzy said there were no suspects in the two arson attacks but said the police were investigating whether the perpetrators came from the extreme right wing.
Ezra condemned the latest assault after a meeting in Haifa with the head of the Greek Catholic Church in Israel, Bishop Elias Shakur.
"Those who misbehaved in Amona have still not internalized that they need to return to routine and respect the law." said Ezra, who was ostensibly meeting Shakur to discuss the attack at the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth just over a week ago.
"I have decided not to allow officers to appear before the committee next week. I am the only one who will represent the police. We will use all our efforts to catch the arsonists and the law-breakers, and we will not agree to allow policemen and soldiers to become targets," Ezra added.
This is the second time he has changed his mind about allowing policemen to appear before the committee. He initially said he would prevent them from appearing, but allowed the head of the police, Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi, to provide testimony last week. He also said he would permit officers to appear under certain conditions, but has again reversed his decision.
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