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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Incidents of Police Violence and Abuse Continue to Surface

Arutz Sheva, whose commercial radio broadcasts were suppressed by the Sharon government three years ago, may be the largest media outlet that is keeping the story of the police brutality at 'Amona' alive:

Incidents of Police Violence and Abuse Continue to Surface

Yesha Council leaders met with Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra this afternoon, demanding a public inquiry into the accusations of police brutality and sexual harassment at Amona last week.

Ezra refused to entertain the idea of a public inquiry, saying that the Cabinet had decided against it. "Individual complaints will be investigated," however, he said. "The police force is not a punching bag. It was sent to carry out a difficult mission, and will fulfill every mission it is charged to do."

Yesha senior figures said afterwards that the refusal to establish the commission indicates that there is something to hide. In any event, MK Sha'ul Yahalom is preparing a Knesset initiative to order an inquiry, and it is expected to be passed.

The two-hour meeting was a stormy one, and included many raised voices. The Yesha leaders brought reports from teenaged girls who said that Yassam (special unit) and Magav (Border Guard) policemen had called them prostitutes, threatened to rape them, and touched their private parts.

A 52-year old woman said that when a Yassam policeman took her out of a house in Amona, he placed his hand under her sweater. She slapped him in the face. Other policemen then approached her in a threatening manner, but then left her.


One youth who participated in the Amona protests, and who prefers to remain anonymous, explained his view of the events:

"We had no intentions of throwing rocks, but when we saw the way the police charged in with their horses and clubs at the people standing around, we just felt that there was no choice; we had to do something. So we took the rocks that we had brought up to hold down the barbed wire and threw some of them."

Fifteen-year-old Avishag S. of Haifa, who says she is still in pain and now has developed fever, told the following story:

"I was in house #6, and the Yassamnikim came in through the window. One of them pulled me up by the ear, while beating me with his club in my stomach. He didn't just hit me; he turned the stick around almost inside me - and then another one kicked me in the back, and then sort of threw me out the window, giving me glass splinters in my leg. That's what they did with all the girls there...

"After a few seconds, my stomach began to hurt me terribly, and I just started screaming in pain, all doubled over. An army medic told me I had better go to the clinic, but a Yassamnik didn't let me pass. Only when they brought me a stretcher - because I couldn't walk - did he let me go through.

"In the clinic, they didn't know exactly what to do, but they saw that there was a real fear of damage to an internal organ - so they called an ambulance. But throughout this time they couldn't give me any painkiller, and so I was yelling in pain the whole time. Once I was in the hospital (Shaarei Tzedek), they gave me an ultrasound and infusions and everything. That's when they finally told me that I was just a millimeter away from having an internal organ damaged, which would have meant a dangerous operation. I was also very worried that my uterus was affected, but in the end, they reassured me on that as well."

"I hope that next time, the whole nation will be there - not to attack, but to defend."

It has now been learned that even Magen David Adom (MDA) medical teams were not immune to police attacks. Shalom Galil of Beit El, an experienced medic, told this story:

"I was outside house #6, and a Border Guard officer called out, 'Medic! Medic!' So I came and he said that someone was hurt inside the house. I climbed in through the window [the doors were sealed - ed.], and I looked for the patient. Two Border Guard policemen were there and said, 'No one is here, get out,' and they started beating me. At the same time, they pushed me towards the salon, where two other policemen were blocking the way. I screamed that I was an MDA medic, and of course they saw my orange MDA vest, but they didn't care and kept on beating me, until I was finally able to get out."

Another medic, Mordechai Ben-Aros of Kokhav Yaakov, had a similar story:

"Most of the MDA personnel were in the first-aid tent, treating the wounded, while we were three paramedics outside in the 'field.' We also had stretcher-carriers and other volunteers, but we were treating the wounded...

"At one point, we came to a house, and the commander asked me to go in and deal with those who were hurt. When I went in, with my bright orange vest, there were policemen who recognized me from previous houses - but one of them pushed me into a corner and started screaming at me and did not allow me to go up to the roof and check who was hurt. At the same time, a Yassamnik started hitting me without stopping. I tried to say that the officer had told me to come in, and they said they didn't care and kept on beating me... Afterwards, at another house, they told me to go in to check the wounded, but we chose not to."

In another case, an army officer whose name is known did not allow an ambulance to go from Ofrah to Amona.

Another paramedic said that Magen David Adom management instructed its volunteers not to publicize the stories.

It was also learned that a woman ambulance driver was taking a wounded policeman to the hospital, and he cursed her and abused her the whole route. A complaint has been filed with the police.

Read the whole thing.


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