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(en) Palestine-Israel, Bil'in, Media*, Border Police `lie about violence at fence protests' By Jonathan Lis

Date Thu, 28 Jul 2005 07:18:03 +0300

For more than six months, dozens of Israelis** and hundreds of
Palestinians have been demonstrating every weekend against
the construction of the separation fence near the West Bank
village of Bil'in. These demonstrations, defined by participants
as peaceful, frequently turn into violent clashes with the
Border Police's Company 22, assigned to disperse the demonstrations.
An investigation by Haaretz has found that policemen from that company
have made false accusations against demonstrators and even made arrests
on the basis of those accusations. Palestinians thus detained can be
held for eight days before being brought before a judge.

In other cases, soldiers gave false testimony about rock
throwing and other violence when most of the protests were
peaceful. However, there were instances in which Border
Police were hurt by rocks thrown by demonstrators at Bil'in.

In recent weeks, three judges harshly criticized troops after
watching videotapes that nullified their allegations. In at least
two cases the judges questioned the excessive force used
against peaceful and restrained protesters. Footage taken by
Shai Caremeli-Polack, who documents the demonstrations for
the organization Anarchists Against the Wall, was presented in
the various court hearings and contradicted the claims of
Border policemen that the conduct of demonstrators had
compelled them to use batons, kick and fire tear gas directly at
the demonstrators.

In the wake of one of these incidents, police officials this week
harshly criticized the behavior of Company 22.

Two of the cases examined by the courts or the police's
Internal Affairs Department (IAD) are detailed here. Last
Friday, Bil'in residents demonstrated with Israeli and overseas
human rights activists. Border Policemen arrested a Beit Lakia
resident (name withheld). The troops transferred the suspect to
the Judea and Samaria Police for questioning, on the grounds
that he had assaulted a policeman.

Anarchists Against the Wall activists rushed to the station and
showed investigators their complete documentation of the
incident. The videotape, which Haaretz has also obtained,
clearly shows the Border policemen violently attacking the
man and kicking him after they had subdued him and held him
prone on the ground. "After the investigator saw the film, he
immediately decided to release the detainee and transferred the
case file to IAD to review the Border Policemen's conduct," a
police officer said yesterday.

On July 20, Border Police arrested two Israeli demonstrators at
Bil'in - Shaul Berger Mugrabi and Moshe Robas, claiming
they had participated in an illegal assembly, assaulted a
policeman and interfered with police work. Jerusalem
Magistrate's Court Judge Yoel Tzur watched the videotape of
the incident and lambasted the police: "The Border policemen
who were involved in the incident are indeed framing the two
respondents, yet I cannot shake off the impression created by
the tape that shows distinctly that it was Border Policemen
who used force against the respondents."

The Border Police responded: "The protesters against the
fence construction knowingly break the law in entering a
closed military zone, with their objective being to thwart the
construction of the security fence. These cases are not about
the right to demonstrate and freedom of expression, since the
demonstrations in question are not authorized and illegal."

According to the Border Police, "in contrast to the claims of
protesters that these are peaceful demonstrations, for two and
a half years, almost daily, IDF soldiers and Border Police
fighters have been contending with demonstrations
characterized by serious violence, hurled rocks*** and Molotov
cocktails that endanger the fighters' lives. In recent months,
IDF soldiers and Border Police fighters have been severely and
moderately wounded during demonstrations in Bil'in [...] The
videotapes handed to the reporter are one-sided and do not
reflect the complete picture and the violent conduct of the
demonstrators. The police has tapes which in most of the
cases proves precisely the opposite."
* From the English Haaretz.com online edition of the Israeli
Daily Haaretz.

** Israelis participation is organized by the village
comity together with the people of the Anarchists Against
The Wall initiative and is joined by wider spectrum of

*** In Bil'in Friday demonstrations I participate, the stone
throwing - no rocks or Molotov cocktails, starts regularly
by the youngsters ONLY AFTER the peaceful demonstrations
are brutally dispersed by the Israeli state forces.

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