Itamar Residents Object to Police Harassment
The Judea and Samaria community is reeling from a series of violent police-inflicted measures this week.
They include 4:30 AM searches for persons possessing a particular type of gun involved in the self-defense killing of an Arab attacker, the confiscation of guns from a security officer and another man whom the police admit are blameless, and Tuesday night’s inordinately violent arrest of ten people at Givat Ronen (near Har Brachah in the Shomron), seven of whom were later released.
"We Thought it was Another Terror Attack"
The most recent event took place at the home of the son of former IDF Chief Rabbi Avichai Ronsky in Itamar. “We thought it was another terrorist attack,” Rabbi Ronsky said, referring to the brutal slaughter of five Fogel family members in the same neighborhood less than three weeks ago. “My son called me at 5:30 AM and said he hears knocking at the door, his wife is crying, and they think it’s an attack… I went there and was shocked to find policemen threatening to smash the door in if my son doesn’t open… They told me they are investigating everyone who has a Glock pistol because of an incident a few months ago. I asked, ‘Why at 5:30 in the morning? Can’t you just call him at a normal hour?’ They said they don’t care… Luckily, I have some friends; I called the Samaria and Judea Police Chief, and 20 minutes later, they were gone.”
“This happened very close to where the Fogel murders took place,” Rabbi Ronsky said. “Many families are receiving psychological treatment as a result of that attack, and there is no need to cause them new traumas every day at the hands of the police… I am considered a public-minded person [as opposed to some who believe in more extreme responses and have lost respect for state institutions – ed.] and I try to calm people down, but this is not the first case. This morning they also arrested the administrator of the yeshiva and the secretary of Elon Moreh for having a Glock.”
The Honenu civil rights group reports that the police admit that the killing perpetrated via the Glock gun was done in self-defense. Despite this, the Glocks of the two were confiscated from them.
“We cannot ignore what is going on here,” Rabbi Ronsky said. “We are salt of the earth, and yet they treat us as Class B or C citizens, like the worst criminals. I have spoken to several MKs, and they are all shocked. Even if there had been no massacre here – to come in before dawn to the neighborhood where the massacre happened and knock that way at 5:30 in the morning is simply unacceptable... We have suffered 20 terrorist casualties, and nerves are high-strung... But the people here are strong."
Letter to Police from Yesha Chief
Danny Dayan, head of the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (Yesha Council), wrote a letter to Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch, lamenting the “lack of good judgment” on the part of the police in their recent contacts with Jewish residents. He asked for a special meeting between the minister and Yesha representatives.
Dayan mentioned the early-morning summons of three residents “whose only crime is to be unlucky enough to be licensed to own a gun of a particular type. In Itamar, for instance, it was an outstanding IDF officer who would have shown up without hesitation had he merely been summoned by fax or SMS…”
“This grave incident is added to a series of events that have occurred over the past few weeks, headed by the [police] shooting at Havat Gilad. It is hard not to think that there is a lack of good judgment in employing police force against the Jewish residents. At best, this stems from preconceived notions and stigmas that the police are supposed to be free of, but at worst, it is the result of an inexplicable desire to unnecessarily worsen the fabric of relations.”
Orit Strook, head of the Yesha Civil Rights Organization, has asked the Unit for the Investigation of Police Officers (Machash) to investigate the police violence at Givat Ronen. She especially noted the behavior of Commander Kobi Ben-Shabtai, who confiscated a cell-phone and deleted a film of the police violence; the film was later recovered. Eyewitnesses said the police violence included stepping on a neck, pulling beards and side-locks, and an elbow to a resident’s eye. “The police break their own records in their exaggerated violence and use of force in order to badger the residents,” Strook noted in her complaint.
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner of Beit El, asked to comment on the series of incidents, said, among other things, "No one promised that everything would be perfect, even if the State of Israel is the Beginning of the Sprouting of our Redemption; it is only the beginning. If something in the police has to be corrected, then the way to do it is not by complaining and cry-babying, but by making sure to improve the police force. And the way to change the entire country is by taking leadership - which is also not accomplished by complaining, but by showing leadership, seeing the good, remaining calm, and the like."