Mazuz won't attend Knesset mtng. on Gaza demonstrators

Meeting set to examine charges that protesters threw caustic soda at security forces evacuating Kfar Darom.

kfar darom 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
kfar darom 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
A senior Justice Ministry official told Knesset Law Committee Chairman Michael Eitan on Monday that Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz would not attend a committee meeting to discuss indictments filed against anti-disengagement protesters from Kfar Darom who attacked police and soldiers during the evacuation. Among other charges, the protesters were accused of throwing caustic soda at the security forces. However, according to a police report issued after the indictment was filed, the police said they had not found signs of caustic soda on the clothing of the security forces. As a result, Eitan decided to call for a meeting on the subject of alleged "negligence in the filing of indictments regarding charges that [protesters] threw caustic soda at police." The Justice Ministry official, Deputy State Attorney for Special Tasks Shai Nitzan, said that "according to the custom of many years, Knesset committees do not normally discuss specific cases that are being heard in court." He said neither Mazuz nor his representatives would attend the meeting. He added, however, that there was circumstantial evidence indicating that the protesters had used caustic soda. For one thing, the police found four containers labeled "caustic soda" on the roof after the evacuation. Two of them were full and two of them almost empty. Furthermore, the police found chemicals with a level of PH9 to PH7 on the overalls, shoes and socks of the evacuating force. According to the police, these levels "could cause severe damage to human tissue, burns and blindness." It was also possible that the caustic soda had broken down into other components after exposure to the air, wrote Nitzan. According to Nitzan, the protesters "barricaded themselves behind barbed wire on the roof of the building and armed themselves with iron rods, chains, clubs, boards, fruits and vegetables, containers of paint, machine oil, different kinds of sprays, fuel and sand, milk, sealing materials, bleach and a solution including caustic soda." When the security forces came to evacuate them, "the protesters attacked them and threw various substances at them. According to a priori evidence found in the investigation file, a solution including caustic soda was one of the substances thrown. The protesters also tried to push away the ladders and throw off the forces that were climbing up them to reach the roof." Sixty-five policemen and soldiers were taken to Soroka Hospital in Bersheba with bruises and burns of various degrees. Nitzan said the allegations against the protesters should be heard in courtroom and not in the committee. But Eitan told The Jerusalem Post he intended to hold the meeting, though he had not yet set a date.