Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Police Round Up Dozens of Would-be Protestors, Use Violence

Hillel Fendel
( Dozens of concerned citizens who wished to protest against the banning of three young men from their homes in Yesha for 3-4 months were detained - and some were beaten - before they could start protesting. In addition to accusing them of "planning to take part in an illegal demonstration," the police used violence on several occasions against youths and adults before and after the protest rally.
Complaints have been filed with the police against some of the officers involved in the arrests and violence (see below).

The story began last week when the IDF issued orders to three young fathers living in Jewish towns in Samaria (Shomron), banning them from their homes, or from anywhere in Judea and Samaria, for the next 3-4 months. This, despite the harm caused to their family situations, jobs, and agricultural plans for the coming months.

The orders state that they are perceived as a "security threat." One of the three, Akiva HaCohen, said he thought he was being targeted because of his involvement in an initiative to organize public protests when police or soldiers attempt to evict Jews from hilltops.

"Police Do Our Work for Us"
Incensed activists of Women in Green, the Givatayim Settlers, Homesh First, Saving the Land and People, and other nationalist groups organized a protest vigil for Tuesday evening outside the home of IDF Central Commander Gen. Gad Shamni. As one organizer - Mati Barnea, of the Givatayim Settlers - later told Arutz-7, "We never dreamt that we would get such great publicity, but the police did the work for us. They turned it into a major event."

What they did was to detain at least two busloads of would-be demonstrators and beat several detainees who were already in the police station. In addition, Barnea said, "they blocked the entrances to Reut [where Gen. Shamni lives], deployed detectives all around the town, and even had a large presence on Route 443 [a main Jerusalem-Modiin highway]."
Click here for a Hebrew-language video of the events.

Informed that the police later claimed that the protestors wished to block Route 443, Barnea - and other participants - said they knew of no one who had such plans.

Elderly Broadcaster Detained
One protestor, Moshe D. of Jerusalem, said, "We were about 15 people in a van from Jerusalem, and we arrived at the parking lot at Shilat Junction to wait for the others. Suddenly, some policemen came up to us, accused us of wanting to take part in an illegal demonstration, and rounded up some. One of those arrested was Walter Bingham, 85-year-old showhost on IsraelNationalRadio. They put him into a police van for about 15 minutes, ignoring his protests."

Lamenting the police violence, Barnea said, "The police wanted to show what they could do - even though just about a kilometer from the same site, at Naalin [where anarchists, Arabs and leftists demonstrate against police and soldiers every week], the same police allow the demonstrators to throw things at them, spit at them, and the like - and do nothing in response."

"In addition, protests take place outside the home of Education Minister Yuli Tamir, and the police don't take action, and just recently there was one - without a permit - outside the home of Defense Minister Ehud Barak. The police allow the left-wingers to demonstrate, but not those who stand up for the true values that keep this country alive: The People of Israel and the Land of Israel."

Matar's Story
Nadia Matar, co-chair of Women in Green, was detained in the Modiin police station until close to 2 AM. She said, "When three policemen first surrounded my car, they asked me where I was going. I said I was going to see some friends. They asked me for their names and phone numbes, and I said, 'That is too much already. I'm not under arrest.' So they said, 'We are detaining you on suspicion of wanting to participate in an illegal protest.' I asked them if they were mind-readers..."
"They had me follow them to the police station, where they actually had an investigator test my car like they do on the annual inspection. Within a few minutes, a whole bunch of people werer brought in, on the same charges; they had been in the bus in front of me, from the Kiryat Arba-Gush Etzion area. Later, we heard that the other bus, from Jerusalem, was also stopped, and the passengers taken to the police station in Ramle."
The police detained at least one of the buses with the excuse that the tires were suspected of being low on air.

Police Protect "Illegal" Protest
Ironically, the purportedly illegal demonstration was actually held, with dozens of people who were not arrested holding signs outside Shamni's house. The signs read, 'Shamni expels Jewish pioneers,' 'Shamni is a political general,' and the like. Policemen stood guard nearby, but witnesses said they used violence to remove the last of the demonstrators.

After the vigil was over, many of the protestors came to the police station to show solidarity with the detainees. Matar recounted:

"The protestors stood outside the station, making noise, blowing whistles and the like, protesting against our detention merely for wanting to stand up for justice in this country - and suddenly a whole bunch of policemen swooped down on them very violently. One girl in particular was treated very brutally - she was dragged with her army behind her back, her shirt was pulled down, and she cried out... We all started to surround the policeman who was doing this, yelling at him to stop - and suddenly the policemen started hitting us! Myself, Daniella Weiss, the photographer Miriam Tzachi - not young girls...
15 Remain Under Arrest
"After a few minutes, calm was restored. Each of us was then put through a mini-interrogation, but we essentially said that we refused to answer because this was a political interrogation. Finally, towards 2AM, they left most of us go - but another 15 or so remained under arrest. We didn't want to leave until they were released, but finally around 4:30 they took them away to a prison cell."

The 15 youths were in fact held until Wednesday afternoon, released after paying a bond of 250 shekels each and being ordered to stay out of the Modiin-Reut area for the next 30 days.
Shmuel Medad, head of the Honenu legal rights organization which helps nationalist-camp members who are arrested during the course of their activities, told at around 5 PM, "The last of the 15, Itamar Ben-Gvir, is having his hour in court right now. He is demanding to know why he was arrested in the first place." Ben-Gvir is a veteran of legal struggles in these matters, and is said to know his way around the court system better than many lawyers.

Complaints Filed Against Violent Policemen
Honenu's sister organization, Yesha Civil Rights, headed by Orit Strook of Hevron, has submitted complaints to the Department for Complaints Against Policemen of Israel Police. A complaint was filed against the officer who made the decision to detain and arrest citizens with no crime having been committed, "violating their freedom of movement based only on suspicions, as if the police were a 'thought police.'"
Other complaints were filed against the officer commanding the Modiin Police Station on Tuesday night, under whose watch the citizens were beaten inside the station, and against the police officer who ordered the whistling demonstrators to disperse - but gave them no time to do so before ordering his men to swoop down on them and beat them with clubs.

Not Only Shamni
"The police hysteria shows that they want to keep this whole thing of the eviction orders quiet," Barnea said. "But it boomeranged on them. We will now redouble our efforts. I can just say that Shamni is not the only one whose home has to be 'visited' in this manner. Let his neighbors, and those of the others involved in this travesty, know exactly what they did."

Let Them Live!
Summing up the night, Barnea said, "It can't be that when we fight for the country's most important values, the authorities utilise clauses from the Turkish law, or from laws that were specifically enacted so that Israel could fight its enemies, to detain or arrest or banish them without trial or explanation. Olmert has not been banished from his home in Jerusalem even though he is suspected of many crimes, and the same has to be true for Land of Israel supporters as well. If they are suspected of a crime, let them be indicted - otherwise, let them live."

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