Police: Girls at Expulsions Must Be Searched for Suicide Belts

A police officer stunned a Knesset panel, saying young Jewish girls at expulsions must be searched for suicide belts. Ben-Ari: You need treatment.

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Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu, | updated: 15:12

Police drag an activist.
Police drag an activist.
Israel news photo: Flash 90

A police officer stunned the Knesset Committee on the Status of Women Wednesday by saying that young Jewish girls at expulsions must be searched bodily because they may be wearing suicide bomber belts. He was referring to Gush Katif and outpost expulsions.

Police investigator Avi Rosh told the panel, “Our search procedures are carried out according to the law. They require the suspect's consent, but if she does not agree, the officer explains that he has the right carry out a search by force. It is not a full undressing. Remember, a suspect may have a suicide belt.”

National Union Knesset Member Dr. Michael Ben-Ari, who has asked the committee to hold a hearing on the issue, replied, “You are making yourself look silly. Whoever maintains that a [Jewish] girl at a protest is suspected of carrying a suicide belt needs to be hospitalized for observation.”

Rosh tried to explain that the same law that allows body searches for terrorists and drug smugglers applies to girls at demonstrations and expulsions, and he advised lawmakers “not to restrict our authority.”

Committee chairwoman Tzipi Hotovely, a Likud Knesset Member, told the hearing, "Nothing damages human rights more than disrespectful body searches of women. Our aim is to protect young women who are arrested from suffering what has been described in these hearings as searches that result in what is similar to the trauma of rape."

Israel National News previously has documented dozens of instances of violations of girl’s rights at demonstrations and during the 2005 Gush Katif, subsequent Amona and outpostt expulsions. Male police officers, in violation of the law, frequently manhandled young girls, often brutally touching sensitive parts of the body and sometimes ripping off their clothes.

MK Hotovely said it was difficult to bring some religious girls to testify at the hearing because of their trauma from police violence and their embarassment at discussing what occurred, but several agreed to appear and described their experiences, which included the fear of searches by force if they did not agree to a thorough body examination.

She asked why police cannot carry out the law that requires them to explain suspects’ rights. Why is it so difficult to present them with a document explaining their rights? Not every girl who is arrested at a demonstration is a suspect of smuggling drugs or wearing a suicide belt.

Orit Struk, head of the Human Rights Organization for Judea and Samaria, said that a police officer told her that they used body searches of girls as a tactic to stop the girls from acting in a way the police described as “chutzpah.”

Police officer Rosh maintained that body searches are used to prevent self-inflicted damage or the transfer of a note to someone else. He then compared the procedures with those used on criminals. “The criminal world is very creative and knows how to get around the law,” he told the committee.

MK Ben-Ari told him, "The problem is that you do not use your resources intelligently. Most police officers know that that girls at Ramat Migron [a community in Samaria] do not use drugs."