The calls for a thorough investigation into last week’s events during the destruction of the Gilad Farm (Havat Gilad) grew stronger and louder on Sunday, in particular after an announcement by the police that its team of investigators had determined that officers did not make a disproportionate use of their weapons and had acted in a restrained and professional manner.
The investigators, led by Commander Shuki Zisu, determined that the actions were lawful since the demolition orders were signed by the commander of the Central Command, and noted that the police officers acted according to regulations during the incident.
The report was presented during a meeting held by the subcommittee for Judea and Samaria affairs of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to discuss the Gilad Farm violence.
The discussion took place at the request of Shomron mayor Gershon Mesika and was attended by committee Chairman MK Zeev Elkin (Likud), MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union), MK Uri Maklev (United Torah Judaism), MK Othniel Schneller (Kadima), MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) and MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud). Also in attendance were Yesha Council Chairman Danny Dayan, Orit Struck, director of the Judea and Samaria Human Rights Organization, Yossi Dagan of the Shomron Residents Committee, and residents from the Gilad Farm. Senior IDF and police officers also participated.
The early morning raid on the Gilad Farm turned violent after police shot at residents what was at first thought to be rubber bullets but turned out to be plastic bullets from a gun called FN 303, the same one naval commandos were carrying when they boarded the Mavi Marmara during last May’s Gaza flotilla incident.
Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch has justified the police’s actions but has not offered any photo evidence that the residents attacked police.
MK Eldad said in response to Sunday’s police announcement that “the police has been found to be not only a violent and corrupt body, but also a liar. A Brigadier General in a uniform was reporting false information to a Knesset Committee and was trying to cover up criminal behavior in uniform which was triggered by political reasons.”
Eldad added that “Decades ago, the Israel Security Agency was in the same situation when it made a major working tool out of a culture of lies and used it not just against the enemies of Israel but also against IDF officers. Israeli police today is an organization for which the culture of lies is a driving force. The Minister of Public Security backs up this culture of lies and therefore has full responsibility for it.”
MK Ben-Ari said that “this culture of lies hurts first of all the police itself. We all saw the pictures. It is too bad that the police gives legitimacy to this delinquency.”
Struck said that “it is very puzzling how one police officer can say in the morning that he has no idea what exactly happened in the Gilad Farm and answers every question he is asked with ‘I don’t know, I wasn’t there’, and several hours later publishes an investigation he conducted in which he claims that everything was done appropriately.”
The Yesha Council responded to the police report by saying: “If the report was prepared by the same person who wrote Minister Aharonovitch’s stuttered response, which ignored the evidence and testimony of the residents, then it increases the need for an external review committee that will strive to expose the truth. The report shows a detachment from the facts and from reality and we will work to uncover the truth.”
MK Schneller said that “What happened during the destruction the Gilad Farm shows a lack of intelligence, wisdom and balance on the part of the commanders. It was embarrassing to hear their explanations.”
MK Maklev noted that “Somehow, when it comes to the Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria, to hareidim and sometimes to Arabs, there are no clear and reliable answers and the police violence continues.”
MK Hotovely said that “We are here as members of Knesset to investigate these serious acts and ensure that they do not happen again.”
Committee Chairman Zeev Elkin noted that he was amazed at the fact presented and announced that he plans to conduct further discussions on these issues. “The serious things which were exposed require a thorough investigation,” he said.