Chief of General Staff, Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, appeared before the Amona investigative committee on Wednesday. "In no way did I understand that the Amona evacuation was similar to the Gaza evacuation," he said.
Police Inspector General Moshe Karadi
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"The Gaza evacuation was an operation conducted against legal settlements, while Amona was about enforcing the law and order against illegal construction. Therefore I see no room to compare the two events at their base level," said Halutz.
The first contradiction unearthed in the investigation was found between the testimonies of Interior Security Minister Gideon Ezra and Chief of Staff Halutz.
Ezra told the committee last week that security forces had to march all night, instead of using vehicles, because of roadblocks imposed by settlers. Halutz, however, said that "the initial plan called for a march on foot - altogether they marched over half an hour some two to three kilometers. The march was planned ahead of time," said Halutz. But added that "there were roadblocks on the way."
Halutz said that he had allowed, in principle, for force to be used if necessary. But only police officers with the rank of Assistant-Commander and higher had the authority to implement the use of clubs against protesters. He said that he banned the use of rubber bullets ahead of time.
"I anticipated that the resisters in Amona would try to present us with new challenges and would dictate more difficult game rules than those we experienced in the Gaza evacuation, and that's what happened. Despite this, I ordered the commanders not to alter the rules regarding use of force out of the understanding that most of the settlers are law-abiding and that only a minority were interested in conflict."
Regarding the compromise offered by settler leaders prior to the operation, Halutz said that it was not feasible and not possible within the time frame the state was obligated to abide by, set by the High Court of Justice.
"The offer involved sawing the homes into four parts and transferring them to Ofra. This had not yet been done in Israel. In my opinion this can't be done, and if anyone wants to come to an agreement, it cannot be based on this. I still stand behind my opinion that this proposition is not feasible," he said.
Halutz explained that an operation of this sort would have taken up to six weeks, which would have run over the High Court's time frame. He expressed surprise that settler leaders did not come forward sooner with proposals to evacuate the structures.