The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, today commended the Knesset for voting to establish a parliamentary panel tasked with investigating the evacuation of nine homes in Amona three weeks ago; an operation that saw passive civilian protesters brutally beaten by police and law enforcement personnel injured by the actions of protesters. In all, the dark day left hundreds injured, many severely.
Two weeks ago the Union sent a letter to Acting Prime Minister Olmert urging him “to establish an independent commission of inquiry to determine why the police brutality that took place in Amona was employed and to draw lessons from it so that such violent conduct by law enforcement personnel will never again occur.”
The panel approved in the Knesset today will delve into such questions as whether the government exhausted all means available to prevent needless bloodshed; whether the security forces considered alternate means of evacuation and, if so, why they were not implemented; and whether there were any violations of the law during the operation. Importantly, the committee will determine whether excessive force was used against the protesters during the evacuation.
President Stephen J. Savitsky and Executive Vice President Rabbi Tzvi H. Weinreb issued the following statement:
Today we commend the Knesset for voting in favor of establishing a parliamentary panel to investigate the operation in Amona. The vote is representative of the reality that Israel, unlike any other state in the Middle East, will continue to be governed by the rule of law and democracy, and that the State’s Knesset will serve as a check and balance to the actions of government officials.
As we wrote in our letter to Acting Prime Minister Olmert, while we reject the actions of those protesters who resorted to violent tactics, we firmly believe that professional law enforcement units charged with carrying out difficult missions must remain calm, respond in a measured manner, and act with sensitivity in the performance of their duties.
We hope Israel’s security forces will take to heart the findings of the commission and adjust their procedures, policies and training in dealing with such civil dissent in the future.