Tuesday, March 07, 2006
Posted by Daniel Greenfield 19 Comments
Anat Roth was a member of the left wing party Meretz, she had served as an assistant to several Labor Party MK's and working as a researcher for the Israeli Democracy Institute and doing her doctorate on the Yesha Council. She had extensively interviewed settlers and members of the council and she was at Amona when special police squads were sent in. Today she was in the Knesset testifying to the police brutality she had seen and experienced herself.
Roth recounted how the pre-evacuation preparations for the confrontation among the protestors was of a totally non-violent nature.
"They were instructed over and over that the nature of the struggle would be non-violent and merely passive," she said. "It was decided that the method of struggle would be the same as in Gush Katif, meaning – to sit on the floor, cross hands and be evacuated by force."
"The children who were standing around the houses were shaking with fear, and groups of policemen stormed around them with horses and batons. Stones were occasionally thrown. I saw policemen hurling stones at the people who blockaded themselves on the rooftops and yelling at them."
Rott, who herself sustained a head injury, said that "there was no one to talk to."
"I was beaten and dizzied, I saw policemen hurling stones at the people who blockaded themselves on the rooftops and yelling at them: 'I am looking you in the eyes, I'm going to remember your face, go up there and kick your ass.'
Describing the actual evacuation and accompanying police violence, Roth said, "I saw settlers who were scared of the horses and the police aggression. Yesha Council leaders such as Adi Mintz looked for a police commander, but there was no one to talk to. There was just terrible hatred on the part of the policemen... I saw police throwing rocks at youths standing on the roofs, and it was those rocks that the demonstrators threw back."
One policeman who saw me filming the events hit me in the head," said Roth. "He would have hit me again, but Ze'ev Chever (of the Yesha Council) stopped him."
Yitzhak Har-Tov, a combat medic who volunteered at Amona told the committee that police officers prevented him from treating woundedresistors. "I was told they would make due on their own," he said.
Har-Tov was beaten by police as he administered medical treatment to the wounded.
"I did not have a paramedic's uniform, and so I kept on yelling that I was a paramedic. I saw a horse trample an older man, and I tried to help him. I saw them beating children and youths... I asked, 'Who's the commander here?' and in response, he said, 'I am Elijah the Prophet,' and he hit me... "I asked someone who looked like a commander if he planned to stop his men, and he drew a line on the ground and said, 'If you cross over this line [to treat the wounded], I'm not responsible.' ..."
Yaakov Tessler, a teen-aged yeshiva student from Jerusalem, said that he and his friends were reminded over and over, by their rabbis and others, not to behave with violence but merely to resist passively.
Tessler said, "I was in a house where policemen were hitting with their clubs without any provocation by the demonstrators. We were afraid that the police would use tear gas, and therefore we prepared bottles of water beforehand. This was the only 'threatening' thing that we brought into the house... "
Once we were in the houses, we had no one to brief or guide us; the public address system was silenced. [Another witness had testified that he saw a policeman detaching the wires - ed.] We had been told to wait until they came to remove us. From the window, we saw terrible sights - policemen beating girls who had done nothing and throwing them to the ground. Outside the house, there was a Yassam [special unit] policeman who hit with his club everyone who came out. After they left, they were hit! We saw this from inside and we became very frightened."
Tessler recounted how he saw a group of Yassam policemen organizing large stones, and then, in a coordinated manner, throwing them at the youths on one of the roofs. He further said that he saw policemen drag and beat a boy who cried that he was hurt and couldn't move. Asked by Labor MK Matan Vilnai and Shinui MK Ilan Shalgi why he took off from school to take part in this event, Tessler responded, "I came because of a deep inner feeling that I had not done enough in the struggle for Gush Katif. I felt a need to protest my pain against the fact that Jews are destroying Jewish homes in the Land of Israel."
An IDF officer who was present at the clash David Weiner, testified that he had been at many Arab riots during his army days, "but I never before saw the police behave the way they did at Amona." He described how the police lined up with clubs opposite protestors who had decided not to resist actively. "I thought the police were going to bring the water cannons close to the houses as a form of deterrence, and this would have calmed things down - but they preferred to use actual force instead... I received a report beforehand from an IDF Lt.-Col. who warned me that the police were planning to use unprecedented force... The police did not give any public warnings about how much time the protestors had to get out; the only public orders were to the police."
Testimony that security officials had sexually assaulted female protesters in Amona was led by Noga Cohen, a social worker in the Yesha Council. She read the accounts 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 protester wrote. Another girl claimed that a policeman had shoved her up against a wall and threatened to rape her. "This was a mass event during which dozens of sexual, verbal and physical abusive acts took place," said Cohen.
Cohen specifically mentioned a case of a girl dragged to the side by two policemen who began molesting her and were stopped only by a youth who saw what was happening and hit them himself. "This was reported in B'Sheva newspaper," she said, "and we investigated the case and found it to be totally true."
Knesset Member Ilan Shalgi said in response that it sounded as if "the Cossacks took over town."
Head of the Binyamin regional council Pinchas Wallerstein said that two weeks prior to the Amona evacuation, the Yesha Council tried to prevent the forceful evacuation, but was denied by the government.
"For two weeks we tried every possible way to meet with Olmert, pulled every string we could, and approached his closest associates, but he didn't even bother to respond. We presented the government with a commitment to surrender and were encountered with a one big no," he described.
(Assembled from Yediot Aharanot, Arutz Sheva, Jerusalem Post, Haaretz and assorted news sources)