Daily Israel Report

Police Refuse to Dismiss Commander for Threatening Brutality

The police chief has rejected demands he dismiss a commander for encouraging brutality against crowds at Kfar Maimon last week. Instead, he barred him from participating in the planned expulsion.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 7/24/2005, 7:47 PM / Last Update: 7/24/2005, 1:42 PM

Several politicians from the left and right demanded that police superintendent Moshe Karadi remove Negev Commander Niso Shaham from the police force. He was recorded on Channel Ten Thursday night as cursing the protestors at Kfar Maimon, telling Border Guard officers to beat them with clubs in the "lower part of their bodies" and saying, "let them burn." He also said that he wants "lots of arrests," and used various vulgarities in referring to how he wanted them treated.

After Shaham was questioned Sunday afternoon by southern Police Commander Uri Bar-Lev, Karadi decided Shaham's punishment will consist of removing him from the "sixth circle" buffer zone around Gaza. Shaham also faces a disciplinary hearing.

In a statement released Friday, settler leaders called Shaham "barbaric" and called on Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra to immediately dismiss him. However, on Sunday, Ezra declined to comment and said he would wait for Karadi's decision.

"I want arrests and I am telling you to use water cannons without holding back," Shaham was recorded as saying. Don't call me, just use the cannons. S--- on them. Let them burn. Use the cannons and batons. Hit them on their lower body and work the way you know how."

Knesset Member Effie Eitam (Religious Zionism) charged Shaham with "vulgar and primitive remarks" in favor of police brutality against protestors.

Shaham said after the broadcast that this was not his usual style of speech, and that he was "tired" when the recording was made.

The Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria and Gaza (Yesha) responded, "Shaham's barbaric words were not said out of tiredness, as he claimed, but rather represent the dominant trend in the police since the struggle against the expulsion started. The farm family [the Sharons] are directly controlling the police... While we call on Gush Katif supporters to refrain from violence, the police are acting with violence and provocations."

The Council called upon the police to "get rid of the wild weeds before a calamity happens."

In a letter to the Prime Minister, MK Michael Eitan, Chairman of the Knesset Law Committee, protested the increasing police violence against pro-Gush Katif protestors.

Eitan, a Likud MK who supports the withdrawal/expulsion, noted that he had asked that the legal proceedings against policemen accused of violence be speeded up and that the suspects be suspended. He further wrote that he had asked Sharon to incorporate in his remarks of support for the police a warning not to use undue violence. "Unfortunately," Eitan wrote, "the investigations were not hurried up, and your voice on this matter was not heard."

Shaham's "vulgar and primitive remarks" are a "mark of shame for Israel Police," according to MK Eitan, "and strengthen the sensation that there is a phenomenon of breaking the law within the police. If this is how senior and 'good' police officers think and talk publicly to the cameras, what are we to expect from junior officers and regular policemen in the police department halls and in the jails?"