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Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Knesset Investigative Committee Hears Revenants' Testimony

Residents of Judea and Samaria testified today before the Knesset Committee that is investigating the violent expulsion of Jews from 'Amona' at the end of January. Among the testimony's highlights were the following:

1. A social worker testified that soldiers and policemen attacked girls with 'sexual intent'.

2. Yitzchak Bar Tov, a senior representative of the Yesha Council, testified that he saw police hitting people who were already restrained by handcuffs or through other means.

3. 17-year old Yaakov Tessler (an elementary school classmate of my son's) testified that he saw policemen hitting young girls on the head with clubs.

Most of the testimony regarding the sexual attacks came from Noga Cohen, a social worker in the Yesha Council. She read the testimonies of several girls who claimed to have been attacked or had seen attacks on other girls.

"'One [soldier] stepped on her and kicked her again and again. The second one was bending over her, and I saw that he was touching her in a very inappropriate way,'" one of the girls said in her written testimony.

Another girl claimed that a policeman had shoved her up against a wall and said, "Stop or I'll f*** you. You know what? I enjoy this."

"This raises the question, what exactly is going on here?" said Cohen.

MK Matan Vilnai, a member of the investigative committee, asked Cohen if there were any reports of policemen or soldiers trying to stop their comrades from attacking the girls.

"No, just the opposite," she replied. "They weren't embarrassed to do these things in front of their friends." To which a member of the committee responded, "OK, so there were one or two or three isolated soldiers who did these things and it's already folklore!" [This kind of scornful attitude in which witnesses' testimony is minimized and the witness degraded permeates the judicial system in Israel. I've seen it happen myself (and I spend very little time in court here). CiJ]

The head of the investigative committee, MK Yuval Steinitz, noted that only 10 percent of sexual crimes in Tel Aviv are ever reported - and this among a secular population.

The police will get to testify in front of the committee tomorrow.

And for those of you who looked at the title and wondered what a "revenant" is, you can find out here and here.


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