MKs worried that security forces are ill-prepared to deal with removing children from outposts

Senior police officer: Settlers using children to make evacuations more difficult for police.

maoz esther outpost 248 88 ap (photo credit: )
maoz esther outpost 248 88 ap
(photo credit: )
A joint session of the Knesset's Interior Committee and the Committee for the Rights of the Child expressed concern Wednesday that police and IDF units were completely unprepared for the task of removing children from outposts being evacuated as a result of the current government's policy. "Tens of thousands of children could be thrown out into the streets and the authorities have no idea what to do with them," added National Union Chairman Ya'akov Katz during the meeting, which was initiated and chaired by Committee for the Rights of the Child Chairman MK Danny Danon (Likud). "Their schools and preschools that the state built are being destroyed and nobody cares," added Katz. The two committees met in a joint session to discuss evacuation procedures of children while outposts are being evacuated. Representatives of the Internal Security Ministry, the Education Ministry, the Welfare and Social Services Ministry, the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria, and the Organization for Human Rights in Judea and Samaria all attended. Neither the State Attorney's Office nor the IDF sent a representative to the hearing, with the army explaining their position in a letter that their presence was not necessary as "no instructions had been given to the IDF to evacuate outposts" and that it was the Israel Police - and not the IDF - that comes into direct contact with civilians during outpost evacuations. "I am happy to hear that the IDF did not get instructions to evacuate settlements, but this just increases the burden of responsibility placed upon the police," said Danon. "We will not allow scenes like Amona to be repeated. It is inconceivable that the Israel Police has no organized procedure for evacuating children from their homes. We demand that the police present us with a proper procedure that will be presented to every police officer present in the field, and will be practiced in the planning process for evacuations. The procedure must include preliminary conversations with welfare professionals who will explain to parents the implications of their child's participation in evacuations." Committee members viewed a film documenting the evacuation of the Federman Farm earlier this year. Danon said that he noted in the film that the evacuation was carried out in the middle of the night by male police officers who forcibly removed children, and even searched under the clothes of a 15-year-old girl. Asst.-Cmdr. Yitzhak Rahamim of the Samaria and Judea District Police said that police will carry out whatever assignment they receive, and that previous experience has shown that the greater the police presence at the scene of such evictions, the less violence occurs. Rahamim accused settlers of using children to make the evacuations more difficult for police. The committee expressed its dissatisfaction with the fact that the IDF did not send any representative to the discussion, and called on the IDF "to come up with clear answers as to how the IDF is planning to evacuate children while evacuating outposts and to prevent catching the children by surprise." The committee also called upon the police to work together with welfare and social services officials, as well as with Education Ministry representatives to draw up one consistent procedure for children's evacuation. During the withdrawal from Gaza in 2005, such guidelines were created - including the removal of children by female police officers - but have since fallen by the wayside. Rahamim cited lack of manpower within his district as one key factor in the failure to adhere to previously accepted procedures. In light of Rahamim's comments, the committee chairmen concluded that "the joint committee is concerned that the police are not prepared for evacuation of outposts according to the guidelines that were compiled and distributed as early as 2003."