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A brutal police riot in Israel

By Ariel Natan Pasko
web posted February 6, 2006

A brutal "police riot" occurred last week in Israel, storming protestors with horses and swinging batons, hurting whoever is in their way. There are reports of a several hundred civilians injured including three Knesset members, Effie Eitam (knocked unconscious), Aryeh Eldad (broken arm), and Rabbi Binyamin Elon. Nothing has been seen like this in the free world since the police riots during the Chicago Democratic Convention in 1968.

After those violent events, Chicago's late Mayor Daley slipped and unapologetically blurted out, "The police aren't there to create disorder, they're there to preserve disorder," proving the protestors claims that the police came to the site, with the intension of breaking heads and inflicting massive casualties.

Daley's police rioters, clubbed and maced not only "unruly protesters," but also members of the media, clergy, women, young, old, and anyone else who was within swinging distance.

And that's exactly what happened at Amona.

An injured Israeli protester during clashes with Israeli police in the West Bank outpost of Amona on February 1
An injured Israeli protester during clashes with Israeli police in the West Bank outpost of Amona on February 1

According to Amona spokesman, Ariel Kahane, "I have never seen police violence on the scale I saw today, especially when the police rammed through a line of civilian protestors."

IDF Central Command Major-General Yair Naveh, speaking later, claimed 65 members of the security forces were wounded, as he downplayed the number of injuries on the protestor's side. He estimated that about 70 "settlers" were also wounded. While a spokesman for Israel's emergency medical service, Magen David Adom, said that 219 people had been treated for injuries and that 169 wounded were evacuated to hospitals in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv; close to 300 other injured protestors were treated in a giant first aid tent set up in Amona itself.

Trade & Infrastructure Minister Ronnie Bar-On (a close Kadima ally of Acting Prime Minister Olmert), let the cat out of the bag when he told the press, "The era of restraint in dealing with protesters is over."

Evidently the Israeli government intends to impose a scorched earth policy, violently expelling Jews from parts of the Land of Israel, what they call "illegal outposts," actually new neighborhoods within the municipal boundaries of existing towns in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank).

MK Effie Eitam (National Union), speaking later with Israel Army Radio explained that he and other members of Knesset were on the front lines when the security forces approached Amona. He said the MKs came, just as they had in Gush Katif "to see and be seen," to try and mitigate violence from both sides. Eitam explained that they attempted to negotiate with the police, but no police negotiators were to be found, mounted police came in swinging, "Early on, I was hit, knocked down, and run over by a horse and lost consciousness." Eitam, who was hospitalized with a head injury at the same Neurosurgery Department in Jerusalem (Hadassah Ein Karem) as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon (who is still in a coma), plans to file a complaint against the police violence with Attorney General Menachem Mazuz.

Knesset Member Aryeh Eldad (National Union), who had his arm broken by the police during the forced expulsion of Amona, said that the police behavior in Amona was brutal and had no connection with law enforcement. The police, he said, started using their batons immediately, they hit everyone, regardless of who they were or what they were doing, and confiscated property from protesters, including him.

After seeing the Police Riot in Amona, representatives of MKs Eitam and Eldad's National Union Party said, "Where members of parliament are beaten, there democracy ends." National Religious Party chairman Zevulun Orlev agreed, calling the administration of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert "a bloodstained government." Yesha Council leader Pinhas Wallerstein, and politicians in the National Religious Party, called for a special commission to investigate the behavior of security forces during the Amona expulsion. "Olmert is easing the way for Hamas and is hurting his own sons. This is scandalous immorality," Wallerstein said.

One injured protestor described the scene, "We were standing in the front line, with no intention of using violence or anything, and all of a sudden the police just rained down on us with horses and clubs...My injury seems to be OK; I hardly needed any stitches, and the doctors here [at Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital] sent me home for three days of rest. But others were hurt even more than I was."

Assia Grima, an Ethiopian immigrant protestor who barricaded himself at Amona earlier in the week, was sent to the hospital with a broken hand. "There were many head injuries there; people were hit with clubs," he said. "I myself was struck by a police officer's club, but some of those on our side also acted inappropriately and threw stones, but most of the guys just barricaded themselves [nonviolently] in the homes. Some wanted to leave Amona, but were prevented from doing so [by the police] and were beaten. Anyone in the area was beaten indiscriminately."

A 15-year-old boy is hospitalized in "very serious condition" with a fractured skull. He was placed in a medically induced coma and is on a respirator, according to Channel 2 TV.

Describing the brutal police violence, Amona settlement leader Orit Caspi said, "They are fighting us, they are killing us, the state has declared war on its own citizens," she told Israel Radio.

Solidarity protests against the Police Riot and Amona expulsion were held around the country, with a few thousand attending. Hundreds of people burnt tires near the Latrun interchange and tried to block the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway. A similar protest was held in downtown Jerusalem. In Sderot, over 100 people protested the expulsion. Hundreds demonstrated at the Geha Junction, connecting B'nei Brak, Ramat Gan and Petach Tikva. There were dozens of protesters at the Hizme Checkpoint north of Jerusalem. Students from Tel Aviv and Ariel protested in Lod with the slogan "Homes should not be destroyed for two mandates. Enforce the law in Lod too." The demonstration was held opposite illegal Arab building sites in Lod.

MK Eldad later analyzed the events, "From here, we go on to the next confrontation, which will be far more harsh. In the third confrontation, there will be shooting deaths and in the fourth confrontation, the government will fall. I do not think that Acting Prime Minister Olmert will want to stop before then, because he is sure that if he beats the settlers, then he will appear to be a strong prime minister and earn a few more seats in the [upcoming Israeli] elections."

Likud MK Uzi Landau told Ynet, "There's no doubt that in this case we didn't see a level-headed approach by the prime minister. We saw someone who's looking for a confrontation…in light of an estimation it will help him in the elections. He did this on purpose. Now he must explain why he wanted a confrontation." Landau continued, "Olmert is directly responsible...he wanted a confrontation at any price. He refused to accept all compromise offers by the settlers."

The Likud MK also explained that Olmert was seeking to divert the public's attention from Hamas' election victory by turning the settlers into enemies. "If Olmert had only the rule of law in mind, he would treat everyone equally," Landau said. "The Palestinians build more than 1,000 illegal homes in the Jerusalem region every year. But he [Olmert] takes care of nine homes in Amona."

"Instead of holding a discussion about matters related to Hamas...all the cameras and media are focusing on the settlers in Amona. Why did he do this now? We saw that in Hebron it was possible to reach a deal. In Amona they [the government] didn't want a compromise."

The there are several reasons why Olmert & Co. have decided to attack the Jews instead of Hamas, carrying out this expulsion:

1. The world doesn't cry out when anti-Semites attack Jews around the world, or when the Israeli government attacks Jews.

2. Related to the first reason, Olmert can get away with it. Jewish "settlers" don't shoot to kill. If they attacked Hamas, "Palestinian" supporters around the world would scream out, European states and the UN would probably condemn Israel, and there would be the fear of reprisal bombings from Hamas, and the other terrorist groups.

3. There is a difference between Hebron and Amona. The government lists Amona, as an "illegal outpost," the Shuk area of Hebron known as the Shalhevet neighborhood, is not. Under the Roadmap, Ariel Sharon committed Israel to dismantle "illegal outposts," such as Amona. The then Fatah-led PA committed itself to disarming and criminalizing terror groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, etc. In spite of Mahmoud Abbas' refusal to carry out what he agreed to, and after Sharon's unilateral expulsion of Jews from Gaza brought Hamas to power in the PA, the Olmert government is intent on keeping its expulsion plans going. It proves to the Quartet (US, EU, UN, Russia) he can be counted on as their new Israeli quisling, after Sharon's departure.

4. It serves Olmert's election needs. Sad to say, but brutalizing "settlers" is the biggest "chic fashion trend" amongst the sick Israeli Left. It plays well in Tel-Aviv and the Arab villages of the Galilee, and it's their votes he's after. "Be nice to Arabs, be tough on Jews" could be Kadima's election slogan.

5. And most frightening of all, it is a "dry run" of the many more expulsions (from both "illegal outposts" and legal settlements, Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria), a Kadima-led Olmert-Peres government plans to carry out after their election victory in March.

"Many are the plans of man, but it is G-D's will that prevails" (Proverbs 19:21).

We shall see...

Ariel Natan Pasko is an independent analyst & consultant. He has a Master's Degree specializing in International Relations, Political Economy, and Policy Analysis. He also has a degree in Jewish History & Thought. His articles appear regularly on numerous news/views and think-tank websites, in newspapers, and can be read at www.geocities.com/ariel_natan_pasko (c) 2006/5766 Pasko

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