AG: Amona structures were illegal

Mazuz says settler offers of compromise prior to evacuation were untenable.

amona clashes 298.88  (photo credit: AP [file])
amona clashes 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Attorney General Menahem Mazuz and settler representatives gave conflicting accounts of the Amona evacuation during the Knesset's investigative committee Tuesday. "We offered the government a real compromise but they refused to talk to us," said Zeev Hever, the Director-General of the Settler Movement (Amana). "I believe the Amona clashes could have been prevented."
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Several hours later, however, Mazuz told the committee that the compromise offered by settlers was unacceptable. The Attorney General described a last-minute deal which would move the nine buildings to the nearby settlement of Ofra. "They were suggesting that they move the buildings from one illegal property to another," said Mazuz. "They were not authorized to build on either parcel of land. It was not concrete and it was ambiguous and impossible to implement." Tuesday's committee meeting began with the various settler representatives, including several eyewitnesses, who gave accounts of the evacuation. "The children who were standing around the houses were shaking with fear, and groups of policemen stormed around them with horses and batons. Stones were occasionally thrown," said Anat Roth, a researcher for the Israel Democracy Institute who was observed the evacuation. "I saw policemen hurling stones at the people who blockaded themselves on the rooftops and yelling at them." Testimony that security officials had sexually assaulted female protesters in Amona was led by Noga Cohen, a social worker in the Yesha Council. She read the accounts of several girls who claimed to have been attacked or had seen attacks on other girls. "'One [soldier] stepped on her and kicked her again and again. The second one was bending over her, and I saw that he was touching her in a very inappropriate way,'" one protester wrote. Another girl claimed that a policeman had shoved her up against a wall and threatened to rape her. "This was a mass event during which dozens of sexual, verbal and physical abusive acts took place," said Cohen. Yitzhak Har-Tov, a combat medic who voluntarily at Amona told the committee that police officers prevented him from treating wounded resistors. "I was told they would make due on their own," he said. All of the testimonies stated that the protesters at Amona had intended to be peaceful imitations of the summer's resistance in the Gush Katif settlement block of the Gaza Strip. Mazuz, however, told the committee that he had examined materials, including cell phone text messages and emails from settlers, that showed evidence of a planned violent resistance to the evacuation. "The outpost was established without the authorization of the defense minister, without a planning authority, without construction permission, and worst of all - on private Palestinian territory. This is theft," Mazuz said. Mazuz was questioned extensively on his dismissal of MK Hanan Porat's proposal to have the settlers relocate the buildings to Ofra. The proposal was, "an attempt to postpone the inevitable," said Mazuz. "It was a thinly veiled attempt to... postpone the issue until after the elections, when the new political climate may have been more favorable." Joseph Flesh contributed to this report.