Cops pretending to be Palestinians with car trouble deemed a safety risk by Kfar Saba court.
By YAAKOV LAPPIN, TOVAH LAZAROFFPublished: MARCH 30, 2009 01:16Advertisement
Police launched an appeal to the Petah Tikva District Court on Saturday evening, after a Kfar Saba court closed the case on Friday against six settlers arrested by undercover officers in the northern West Bank.
The Kfar Saba Magistrate's Court also severely criticized the police's actions in the incident, stating that they had unnecessarily risked the safety of those involved.
The head of the Samaria Regional Council, Gershon Mesika, has demanded a special inquiry to investigate police actions.
The police had hoped Thursday's operation would enable them to catch settlers in the act of attacking Palestinians, something settlers in that area are often accused of doing.
According to eyewitness accounts, a transit van containing officers disguised as Palestinians pulled over at the entrance to the Gilad Farm unauthorized outpost on Thursday.
The vehicle had green Palestinian license plates, and two undercover officers stood on the side of the road near the van.
When a group of settlers approached the van and allegedly began attacking it, several officers jumped out of the vehicle and arrested the suspects.
According to Yossi Dagan, a spokesman for the Samaria Regional Council, the settlers had been worried that the van, which appeared to be Palestinian, was there to carry out a terror attack.
They noted that the van stood by the side of the road and that the "Palestinians" next to the van seemed to be trying to fix its tires, even though the tires appeared to be fine, said Dagan. The settlers recalled that two policemen had been killed in a terror attack earlier this month when a Palestinian van had stood by the side of the road for repairs.
A group of settlers approached the "Palestinians" and asked them what they were doing, and the officers responded that they were fixing a flat, said Dagan.
The settlers said this was strange, since they didn't see a flat tire. But before anything could happen, the police arrested them, Dagan said.
It was luck, he added, that the head of security for the area hadn't arrived, because by that point, he might have started shooting.
Five of the suspects were set free on Friday when the Kfar Saba court dismissed the police's case against them, saying the nature of the arrests had posed a safety risk.
Earlier, police released a sixth suspect during interrogation sessions.
Police have refused to discuss the arrests publicly, but a police source told The Jerusalem Post that the operation was part of ongoing efforts to secure "all the residents of Judea and Samaria, Jews and Palestinians alike."
"The court has the full right to criticize any police operation," the source said, but noted that "Judea and Samaria suffers from public disorder problems. We don't have a lot of drugs, and we don't have a lot of rapes. Our job is to secure all of Judea and Samaria, for both Palestinians and Jews. We uphold the law."
Mesika, however, said that the incident was an unbelievable act of provocation.
The source countered that "in Judea and Samaria, police are slammed for not upholding the law against Palestinian offenders, and criticized as being weak for not upholding the law against Jewish offenders. Either way, we will be criticized."
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