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      Barak Wants to Use Colonial Era Laws to Silence Settlers

      Defense minister Ehud Barak raised specter of using British era colonial laws to deny residents of Judea and Samaria the right to protest.
      By Gabe Kahn.
      First Publish: 7/14/2011, 6:51 PM / Last Update: 7/14/2011, 6:39 PM

      Defense Ministry Photo

      Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Thursday instructed his legal adviser to examine the possibility of using of British colonial era emergency laws to curb Jewish protests against the Judea and Samaria commander Brigadier General Nitzan Alon. Area residents say Alon's left-wing political views have permeated his command and prejudiced his decisions against them.

      Barak ordered attorney Ahaz Ben Ari "to examine every possible way within the legal framework – including the use of Defense Regulations from 1945 – to stop disturbances and harassment perpetrated against Commander of Judea and Samaria Division Commander Brigadier General Nitzan Alon, his family members and other officers and soldiers."

      The request comes after an incident some 10 days ago, about which there are conflicting reports. Barak -- who was widely quoted in Israel's Hebrew media -- said Brigadier General Alon's vehicle was attacked by several youths at Tapuach Junction in Samaria. Alon, according to these reports, left the scene after protestors encircled his car and began kicking it and chanting "traitor."

      IDF officials, however, played down the incident, saying a handful of female teenagers "slightly tapped" the car and that Alon, who was on his way to the division headquarters, did not leave the scene.

      Alon raised significant ire among residents of Judea and Samaria and Zionist politicians when it was revealed he issued a confidential directive requiring soldiers from Judea and Samaria serving in his command undergo additional vetting by commanders to ensure they would not leak information about demolition orders in the area -- thereby calling their loyalty into question.

      Speaking at a situation assessment hearing, Defense Minister Ehud Barak described an incident Arutz Sheva believes did not take place.

      "We will not allow a situation whereby extremists injure IDF officers," Barak said. "These officers and commanders protect the residents of Judea and Samaria and all of the State's citizens."

      Israel's law enforcement arms have long had discriminatory policies in place vis-a-vis residents in Judea and Samaria, with special units dedicated solely to investigating their communities and directives that prosecutors pursue more serious charges and seek stiffer penalties against settlers than other citizens involved in the same incidents would face. 

      Rights observers characterize Barak's move as "stridently authoritarian," noting these same laws were used by the British to supress Jewish dissent and aspirations before Israel became a state.