Policemen cleared of misconduct

Investigation concludes they acted properly in trying to stop Netanya bomber.

December 8, 2005 19:28
2 minute read.
netanya bomber Lutfi Amin Abu Salem 298.88

netanya bomber 298.88. (photo credit: Channel 2)


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An internal investigation into police conduct during Monday's suicide attack in Netanya has cleared policemen, who were at the scene, of misconduct despite the fact that they admitted to suspecting the bomber was a terrorist but refrained from drawing their sidearms, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Five people were killed in the attack after a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the Sharon Mall in Netanya. At least two policemen and a security guard suspected that the bomber, carrying a bag, was a terrorist and even screamed at the crowd of people lining up outside the mall to run for cover. One pregnant cop - Shoshi Atiya - spotted the bomber as he made his way up to the mall. When he cleared the barriers surrounding the front of the complex, she shouted to the three security guards at the doors: "Terrorist! Terrorist! Get his hand out of the bag." Despite her calls, Atiya did not draw her sidearm to shoot at who she suspected was a bomber. Following the bombing, the Sharon Region police launched an internal investigation to determine if Atiya and other policemen who were nearby and had similar suspicions acted appropriately by not shooting the suspect. "We are reviewing how the policemen acted during the incident," Asst.-Cmdr. Avi Sasson - deputy head of the Sharon Region Police and the officer in charge of the internal probe - told The Post Thursday. "We are studying the incident to learn how we can perform better in the future and what we can do to improve ourselves." Sasson said he was close to wrapping up the probe, adding, "It seems the police as well as the security guard who was killed all acted in accordance with police procedure." Sasson refused to specify his exact findings claiming: "We do not want the terrorists to learn how we do things." The police have a set of rules according to which policemen are allowed to open fire at a suspect. In contrast to the IDF however - which follows a clear three-step procedure - the police's rules are more complicated since policemen interact not with a Palestinian enemy but with the civilian population. "The IDF works opposite enemies while we the police work within the Green Line," Sasson said. "As opposed to the army, not everyone who is a suspect by us is a terrorist." Meanwhile Thursday, the police in conjunction with the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) continued their investigation into Monday's suicide attack while focusing on how the bomber succeeded in entering into Israel from his hometown near Tulkarm. Police said they had yet to determine whether the bomber crossed into Israel in an area where the West Bank security fence had yet to be constructed or if he crossed in through a military checkpoint with the assistance of an Israeli driver. Police are checking into reports that a van was seen fleeing the scene moments before the attack.

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