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Knesset Begins Inquiry into Amona Violence

The Knesset Parliamentary Committee of Inquiry into the violence at Amona has convened for its first meeting. It will call Olmert, Mofaz and others to testify - but cannot force them to appear.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/27/2006, 1:58 PM / Last Update: 2/27/2006, 4:17 PM

Committee Chairman Yuval Shteinitz (Likud) said that the purpose of today's meeting was to determine the manner in which it would function and how testimonies would be heard. The first testimonies will be heard on Wednesday.

The committee is to investigate the violence at the destruction of nine homes in Amona, near Ofrah, on Feb. 1. Police were filmed using brutal violence against hundreds of youthful protestors, over 200 of whom were injured and taken to hospitals for treatment. The committee will also investigate charges that some protestors themselves used violence, as well as the orders given to the police to employ brutal force, and the government decisions that prevented any form of compromise.

pictured above: Yaakov Tessler, injured at Amona. Read here his letter to IDF Central Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh.

MK Effie Eitam (National Union), who was hospitalized overnight with head wounds after being injured by police at the Amona destruction, caused a mini-storm this past weekend when he said that parents should share blame for the events of Amona "by sending their children to Amona unsupervised."

Eitam later explained to Arutz-7's Ruti Avraham that he views the youth at Amona as having "wonderful motivation, pure intentions and a feeling of mission, all based on the education that they received... At Amona, we were at the extreme edge of our permitted protest... If, Heaven forbid, someone would have been killed, such as the boy who was in critical condition [and who has since recovered], or a policeman, things would be very different now. In future events of this nature, it would be good if parents, rabbis and politicians would also be there. Even motivation and vitality have to have limits and guidance."

MK Tzvi Hendel, Eitam's party colleague, later said, "Our youth is wonderful, and whoever was in Amona could be a shining example for the entire State of Israel."

Eitam added, "It must be clear that the entire Amona situation was created by the [Acting] Prime Minister who used policemen and youth to advance his personal interests. My main criticism is pointed at him, and I will make this clear at the Parliamentary committee of inquiry."

At last week's session of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Olmert and Eitam exchanged barbs regarding Amona. When Olmert walked in, Eitam said, "I'm surprised you didn't come with police mounted on horses [as in Amona]." Olmert said, "It's because I heard that you were coming without weapons."

Committee members include Danny Yatom (Labor), his brother Ehud Yatom (Likud), Uri Ariel (National Union), Matan Vilnai (Labor), and Shteinitz. However, because Olmert has announced that he will suspend the committee's work the day after the elections, a small four-MK team will hold marathon sessions in order to complete the work before the elections. The four are Shteinitz, Ariel, Vilnai, and MK Ilan Shalgi (formerly of Shinui, now of the Arrow party).

Among the witnesses to be summoned are Olmert, Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz, Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, and Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi.

The committee does not have the authority to compel witnesses to appear, and can only issue a rebuke to those who refuse to do so.