Daily Israel Report

Investigation Against Police Brutality Dropped

The Department for the Investigation of Policemen has dropped all charges against the policemen accused of brutality during the expulsion from Kfar Darom. The stated reason: lack of public interest.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 10/11/2005, 3:05 PM / Last Update: 10/11/2005, 3:54 PM

The head of the department, Herzl Shviro, informed the Land of Israel Task Force that all complaints against policemen involved in the expulsion from the synagogue in Kfar Darom were being erased.

In a letter dated Sep. 29, Shviro wrote,
"After I studied the complaint and the material that has been gathered, I have decided - for reasons of public interest - that the construct of circumstances of the incident does not correspond with a criminal indictment... However, I have decided to transfer the material for a check by the Public Complaints Department of the Police Department."

The complaints, which were submitted by the Task Force against dozens of policemen who had contact with protestors in Kfar Darom, include the following:

* Violence and abuse of the demonstrators. Brought as evidence were photos of policemen hitting demonstrators while the latter were held down by policemen, and of policemen purposely placing a demonstrator on a roll of barbed wire such that the barbs pricked his back. The photographer himself later said, "It can be seen and heard from the context that the policemen tried to force the demonstrator to promise to behave nicely and leave the roof on his own - and that only after he promised did they lift him off the barbed wire."

* Use of dangerous substances and spraying fire extinguishing powder - in blatant violation of the law and police guidelines.

* False testimony by policemen, who claimed under oath that tens of policemen were hospitalized because of burns and severe bruises - when in fact not more than two policemen were hospitalized, and none suffered serious injuries. Some policemen coordinated their false testimonies with one another regarding accusations of demonstrators' use of dangerous substances.

* Deception and breach of trust by military and police officers on the scene - namely Imad Fares and Amos Yaakov - who promised that whoever left the synagogue roof on his own would be allowed to pray freely and would not be arrested. In the event, however, the police violated the agreement, breaking into the synagogue in the middle of the evening prayer and dragging all the worshipers away in a mass arrest.

Aviad Visuly, head of the Land of Israel Task Force, said that he sent several notebooks full of material and evidence against the policemen to the Department for the Investigation of Policemen. "But instead of appointing an investigator," Visuly said, "and instead of meeting with us, as we requested, [Shviro] goes and closes the cases."

On the other hand, the State Prosecution has filed at least 17 indictments against demonstrators on charges of violence against policemen during the Kfar Darom expulsion.

"This is a scandal of the highest magnitude," Visuly said. "Citizens are charged with violence against policemen, but when dozens of policemen hit and abuse citizens, against all semblance of law, lie in court, make up evidence and violate dozens of laws - here, Shviro decides that the public isn't interested. Let me emphasize: He didn't close the files for lack of guilt, or for lack of evidence. The Department knows that there is plenty of evidence against them, but closes its eyes on purpose and refuses to accept it."

Visuly said that the Investigations Department, "which comprises mostly former policemen who will return to active duty, has become a department for the cover-up of criminal policemen, and is itself a public deception. Only dark dictatorships have such departments in their State Prosecutions to cover up their policemen's crimes. The Knesset should outlaw this farce of a Department."

Visuly added that his organization would appeal the wholesale dropping of the charges against violent and law-breaking policemen, and would also demand that the charges against the demonstrators be dropped.