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Daily Israel Report

Scare Campaign Against Anti-Disengagement Protestors

Three residents of Sderot were arrested, interrogated all day and then released by the Shabak (GSS), on "suspicion" of having plotted to harm the Prime Minister. They were released with apologies.
First Publish: 5/25/2005, 1:18 PM / Last Update: 5/25/2005, 12:11 PM

The three were Moshe Shachor, Michael Simantov, and a guard at Sharon's Shikmim Farm a few kilometers east of Sderot. Shachor and Simantov said the day-long ordeal was nothing but a campaign to scare anti-disengagement protestors.

After his nine-hour arrest and interrogation ordeal, Shachor said that the General Security Service was merely trying its luck out on him: "It was just a puffed up balloon, and it blew up in their faces." He said he knew he would be cleared in the end, but was slightly concerned that they might place him in administrative detention - a period of incarceration that does not require the police to present accusations.

Shachor is known in Sderot as an organizer of anti-disengagement rallies and protests. "We are activists who are loyal to the Land and object to this horrendous plan, and with G-d's help will continue with joy, faith and confidence, using legitimate methods," he told Radio Kol Chai last night.

He explained that he was actually encouraged by yesterday's events: "It is the Shabak that gives me energy; when they show that they are pressured, this means that there are cracks in their plans. It shows that our demonstrations and actions truly hurt them."

The original "suspicions" were based on the fact that Simantov and Shachor knew the guard, and that he talked with them about arrangements at the Shikmim Farm. "For hours they tried to squeeze out of me all the information that my friend ever told me about Shikmim," Simantov told Arutz-7, "such as that Sharon sleeps there at night, and where his wife's grave is located... Then they spent two hours trying to get me to agree that we planned demonstrations outside Sharon's farm, or something like that - they just wanted something that they could tell the media so that they could say they had 'cracked down on a right-wing cell.' It's absolutely nothing but spin."

Simantov and Shachor were greeted upon their release by a large crowd of Sderot residents, who had gathered in an impromptu protest against their arrest at the Sderot police station. The interrogation took place in Ashkelon.

The two were told they are forbidden to meet Sharon or approach his farm for the next 30 days. "It was a hard ordeal, but the hardest part of all is not being able to meet with Sharon," Simantov told Arutz-7 sarcastically.

"They are going nuts because of the disengagement," Simantov said, "and so everyone who wears a kippah (skullcap) turns into a suspect."

Menachem Landau, a former GSS agent, does not agree. "It's not true that the GSS is in hysteria," he told Arutz-7 today. "Let's not be naive; the situation is very complex, and it must be understood that the GSS is doing what it has to do. We must not reach a point where a catastrophe happens, and then everyone says, 'If you knew that people were talking, why didn't you do anything?' ... and even if people are just talking, they should know that the GSS is on their tail."

MK Uri Ariel, a member of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, takes a different position. He told Arutz-7 today that the GSS should not ignore any evidence that might indicate a plot against the Prime Minister, "but things must be kept in the proper proportions. Why must these two men [from Sderot] - whom I know personally to be top-quality people, whose work is totally in the open - be snuck away for a nine-hour interrogation? How many times can they ask them the same questions? Why couldn't the police be asked to investigate in a routine manner? ... The GSS should be expending its efforts in other directions. They are looking for the coin, or in this case, the murderer, under the wrong streetlight - just like Yigal Amir came from a totally different direction... They could have been investing their efforts in other, more important areas... If they know of someone who might be talking about a plot, they should immediately call the police and have them talk with them. They don't have to release statements to the media blemishing an entire public. I told the new GSS chief, Yuval Diskin, that if he wants cooperation from the public - which he said he wants - then the only way is by building trust, but what the GSS did yesterday, causes lack of trust."