Police admit more women officers needed at Amona

Police officers carrying out a debriefing on the evacuation of Amona plan to present their findings to police chief Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi within a few days, a senior officer said on Tuesday. The officer declined to provide any details of what the report would say but did concede that more policewomen could have been deployed in the operation. Men were used to evacuate protesters from the top of a house that was occupied only by young women and have since been accused of brutality and sexual harassment. The Knesset's investigative committee into the Amona evacuation concluded that women should have been used to evacuate the roof. "Perhaps there weren't enough policewomen, but 250 were deployed in the appropriate areas," the officer said. "There is no legal obligation that policewomen should evacuate women... We prefer that policewomen would do it, but if there aren't enough, if there is an event, if there is a disturbance of the public order, policemen can also evacuate women," he said. The officer also shifted some of the responsibility for the lack of women evacuators to the army. "In the original program the army was supposed to provide a lot more women soldiers and they didn't deploy them," he said. "Even though the army wasn't in the inner circle, they were supposed to make women soldiers available to take part in the evacuation itself." In a short official statement, the police defended itself against the Knesset committee's charge that it used too much force in Amona. "The use of batons was in accordance with the level of violence directed against the police and was part of the implementation of the lessons of the Or Commission," the statement said. The officer explained that the commission had recommended using force gradually to control crowds. "You deploy the forces slowly, first with batons, then with horses, then water cannons," he said. "Before [the year] 2000 it was less ordered and it was possible to use different tools without any regulations. Today there is a very clear order." The Or Commission was set up following the violence between police and Israeli Arabs in northern Israel in October 2000, during which 13 Arabs were killed. The officer also rejected the Knesset committee's criticism of Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra for only allowing Karadi to testify before the committee and not other policemen, saying the police "very much support" Ezra's decision. Ezra's spokesman sent a statement saying that the minister acted within the law and with the backing of the attorney-general, adding that the minister had no intention of being dragged into election propaganda at the expense of the police. "Ezra suggests that elected officials back the police and the IDF in the difficult missions that they are ordered to carry out," a police statement said. Ezra declined to provide further comment.