Over 3 weeks after Amona evacuation, violent protesters remain free

Thirteen protesters were arrested during the evacuation and charged with disturbing the peace.

Evacuation of Amona (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Evacuation of Amona
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
More than three weeks after police clashed with violent protesters during the evacuation of the hilltop outpost of Amona, there have been no additional arrests or indictments.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan warned February 5 that protesters who employed violence against security personnel during the February 1-2 court-ordered evacuation of the West Bank outpost would be arrested and face serious charges. In  an interview with Channel 2 Erdan called the suspects “hooligans” and said police would review video from the incident to identify those who allegedly attacked officers.
Nevertheless, despite the supposed existence of video evidence, Shlomit Bakshi, a Judea and Samaria police spokeswoman, said Monday no additional arrests have been made. “The investigation is ongoing,” she added.
Yesh Atid MK Mickey Levy, a former Jerusalem District police chief, criticized the force as being hesitant in making arrests and issuing indictments.
“We all saw the blatant violence by dozens of teenagers against policemen in the synagogue evacuation in Amona,” Levy said in a statement provided to The Jerusalem Post. “If they have not yet been indicted, it is outrageous. It is impossible that extraneous considerations would lead to a situation where police are attacked and the attackers are not put on trial.”
During the evacuation, which began February 1 and continued into the afternoon of February 2, violent clashes between some of the activists and security personnel left 24 police officers lightly injured by thrown stones and glass bottles. In two cases, an unidentified liquid was thrown at officers’ eyes. The removal of some 100 protesters from the Amona synagogue and the road to the outpost marked the end of the two-day operation by the Israel Police and Border Police to evacuate the community of 40 families.
Thirteen protesters were arrested during the evacuation and charged with disturbing the peace.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On claimed that law-enforcement authorities treat Jews and Arabs differently and are weak when it comes to enforcing the law against settlers.
“When it comes to [Israeli] Beduin they first shoot and then ask questions,” Gal- On said in a statement. “But, with the settlers, they put forth their best efforts and show empathy so the evacuation will be considerate and humane. It is not enough that our soldiers are guarding the settlers in the occupied territories and some of them even lose their lives for them; now they find out that getting beaten up by the settlers is something that can be overlooked.”
MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin (Zionist Union) warned the police against acting out of political considerations.
“The fact that no indictments have been issued so far against those rioters who physically harmed the security forces indicates that there is a lack of motivation do to so,” she said. “The police commissioner must make the right decisions” and should be lobbied on the matter, she added.
Bashki asked for patience, telling the Post that “more arrests are expected.”
Tovah Lazaroff and Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.