'Calm down,' Aharonovitch tells settlers

Public security minister says he was disturbed by Monday's violence, following removal of an outpost.

lieberman aharonovitch 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
lieberman aharonovitch 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimksi [file])
Settler activists involved in a string of recent protests and clashes should "turn the volume down and calm down," Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said on Tuesday. Aharonovitch spoke during the swearing-in ceremony for the new head of the Judea and Samaria District Police, Cmdr. Hagai Dotan, which was held at the district's headquarters in Ma'aleh Adumim's western E1 area. The Israel Beiteinu minister said he was disturbed by the images he had seen of Monday's violence, in which activists clashed with security forces over the removal of illegal West Bank outposts. Turning toward Dotan, Aharonovitch said, "You will have our full backing. If anyone does not keep to the law, you will know how to respond. We won't allow anyone to take the law into their hands." He added, "I am saying this because of the riots and disruptions we saw on Monday, which went out of control. To those involved, I say, turn the volume down, and calm down." The ceremony saw an emotional farewell to the outgoing Judea and Samaria District chief, Cmdr. Shlomi Ka'atabi, who is a popular figure among rank-and-file officers. "You are simply a good human being. I hope others learn from your example," Aharonovitch told Ka'atabi. Ka'atabi was praised by Israel Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen for running a "special" police district that had unique security considerations, while managing to reduce crime. Cohen also called on the military, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the police to work together to bring to justice the terrorists who ambushed and shot dead two traffic police officers, Senior Warrant Officer Yehezkel Ramazreger and Chief Warrant Officer David Rabinovitch, in the Jordan Valley on March 15. Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Ka'atabi said the police district he was leaving behind was characterized by "operational tensions," but that he was "optimistic" for its future. "Dialogue with the settler's leadership can be maintained... balances in approaches to problems and crises can continue," Ka'atabi said. Dotan said in his speech, "Our mission is not simple. We have a growing list of missions every year, which is not always in tune with our personnel numbers." Also on Tuesday, MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union), who was arrested by Border Police at a demonstration near Yitzhar on Monday, met with a small group of activists at the Ma'aleh Rehavam outpost in the evening to protest its planned evacuation. "We will not give up on one ounce of this land," Ben-Ari told them. He waved his finger in the air for emphasis as he stood in the outpost, located on state land behind the Nokdim settlement. His speech came at the end of a day-long tour in which several dozen activists from Gush Etzion settlements, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv visited four outposts - Ma'aleh Rehavam, Hazon David, Federman Farm and Avigail - to plant trees and show solidarity. Veteran settler activists proposed a two-pronged course of action. Homesh First cofounder Boaz Haetzni called on those who opposed the government's plan to evacuate 26 outposts to lobby Likud parliamentarians and to remind them that their Knesset seats were in danger if they supported this plan. "We have to fight within the Likud," and it has to happen before the budget is passed, Haetzni said. He and Nadia Matar of Women in Green reminded those assembled that a protest against US President Barack Obama was planned for Wednesday evening in front of the US Consulate on the capital's Rehov Agron. "Someone who takes away my land is no longer my friend, he is my enemy," Haetzni said.