Yesha: Gov't must investigate Amona police behavior

Yesha: "If they don't run investigation, the next time there could be fatalities."

amona 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
amona 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip (Yesha) has warned that there could be lethal consequences if the government doesn't set up an independent commission of inquiry into the police behavior at Amona last week. "Maybe if they don't run this investigation, the next time there could be fatalities," said Yesha spokeswoman Emily Amrusy. "Whoever is not willing to ask for a commission of inquiry will be responsible for the bloodshed the next time the demonstrators and the authorities meet," she said. At a meeting on Monday morning, Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra informed settler leaders that Police Insp.-Gen. Moshe Karadi had ordered Cmdr. Beri Ohayon, the head of Police Operations, to conduct a thorough investigation into the clashes that took place when nine empty houses were demolished on Wednesday. Ohayon has until next week to present Karadi with his conclusions. Ezra stood by his decision not to set up an external probe and said that if there were "unnecessary beatings here and there by the police," they would be investigated by the Police Investigation Department, which said on Sunday that is had set up its own inquiry. However, this failed to placate the settler leaders. "We also want to know the motive for the actions in Amona. We want to know why the decision was made at the political level as well as at the lower levels," Amrusy said. Ministry spokesman Yehuda Maman condemned the Yesha warnings and defended the police action during the evacuation. "The police had a very hard mission and the protesters had prepared blocks, stones and iron bars beforehand. This shows that they got ready for a very hard battle with the police," said Maman. "It is a shame that instead of trying to calm the atmosphere the Yesha Council considers it right to make threats that if there is no commission of inquiry it will not be responsible for what happens next," he added. However, Amrusy said the government had been unreasonable. "We were trying to reach a compromise with the government; we were even willing to destroy the houses with our own hands, instead of coming to this violence. But the politicians really wanted to see the pictures of blood and violence," she said. Yesha leaders also accused some of the policemen of verbal, physical and even sexual violence against female protesters. Speaking on condition of anonymity to Channel 2 on Monday evening, a woman demonstrator said that when the policemen came onto the roof some of them said, "You are worse than whores as far as we are concerned." "We were hit on our chests and entire bodies, and were told that we were enjoying it," she said. When asked why she had not pressed official charges she replied that it was her intention to do so. Ezra, who heard her comments, responded by saying that the attempt to delegitimize the police action was outrageous and that the entire country was witness to what happened at Amona. He added that the PID would investigate any official complaints of sexual harassment. Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reiterated at a speech Monday to a European-Israeli economic conference in Tel Aviv that he wanted an continuous dialogue with the settlement community. He said that Israel was in the midst of a "difficult and painful" disagreement that could not be whitewashed with slogans. "But it is possible to speak openly, seriously and out of a feeling of responsibility with all segments of the population about this disagreement and ways we will adopt in order to live with it," Olmert said. He said that since he was not afraid of talking with people who fight Israel, he was certainly willing to speak "with those who are an integral part of Israeli society." Although he referred to this public as "beloved" and one that has made important contributions to the state, he said that at times he disagreed with them, thought they were in error and leading others astray, and were liable to lead the country into a dead end. Herb Keinon contributed to this report.