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‘Police Fired Tear Gas while Young Children Slept’

Police confiscated photo memory cards of police brutality in a raid in Samaria, but a video shows glimpses of it. “Tear gas while children sleep.”
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/30/2011, 12:33 PM / Last Update: 3/30/2011, 1:30 PM

Police fired tear gas and stun grenades in houses while young children were sleeping, and a video shows police brutality beating the back of a man during a raid on the Ronen Hill community late Tuesday night.

"They pulled him by his hands, his feet, and even his sidelocks... as if he's an animal... there was chaos here – stun grenades and tear gas,” said one witness of the police attacking one man. “I was in the house and almost suffocated..."

The raid came less than three weeks after the brutal massacre of five members of the Fogel family in Itamar, and Ronen Hill residents said that they did not know whether they were in the midst of a terrorist attack or an arrest. They explained that the plain clothes officers could just as well have been seen as Arab terrorists.

The policemen were without name tags, an illegal tactic that has often been used in arrests of National Religious Jews long before the expulsions from Gush Katif and towns in northern Samaria nearly six years ago.

“They were like animals at our door," said one resident.  We didn't understand what was happening - we were afraid they were terrorists... My husband asked, ‘Who's there? Who's there?' and no one answered. He opened the window a bit to see what was going on outside, and the police seized the moment, opened the window more and drew him outside through the window like animals."

The witness added that one police officer grabbed a mobile phone from someone photographing the violence, erased the picture, and returned the camera saying, "Say thanks that I'm even returning the phone to you."

She said that police beat anyone who was in their way as they arrested a father of eight children by dragging him away.  

One police officer pulled out his gun and threatened a resident, according to Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council chairman Gershon Mesika.

He said he saw frightened children hiding behind cupboards, “Two weeks after the massacre of the Fogels, people are afraid of anything that happens around them. The police arrive in the middle of the night and scare children.

“I expect the police to act according to the law and arrive with identification tags and knock on the door instead of breaking windows and causing panic without people knowing if they are terrorists or policemen. They see an enemy and fire tear gas and stun grenades at us.”

 Benny Katzover, chairman of the Residents' Committee of Samaria, told Israel National News, “We see time and time again that police in Israel act like a gang of bullies camouflaged as police officers. They allow themselves to take revenge on citizens, and someone must put an end to their violent behavior that is suitable for street gangs.”