Fw: Former northern police chief: I didn't consult over snipers
- Former northern police chief: I didn't consult over snipers
By Ori Nir, Ha'aretz Correspondent
Former northern police commander Alik Ron: Made digs at the political
echelon during his testimony Monday.
Former northern police district commander Alik Ron, who was in command
during the rioting by Israeli Arabs in the north last October in which 13
people were killed, said Tuesday that he had decided to post snipers near
the Umm al Fahm junction without consulting his superiors. He testified that
he did not notify his superiors that snipers had begun shooting, and
admitted that he had erred.
The usage of snipers in the riots stood at the center of Ron's testimony
Tuesday. Justice Theodore Or slammed Ron for posting the snipers and
expressed complete amazement that Ron had not consulted his superiors on the
When questioned about the purpose of the snipers, Ron said that they were to
protect civilians driving on the nearby Wadi Ara road from the rioters.
Later on in his testimony he added that they were also a preventive measure,
to counter those rioters using sling-shots and who were out of range of
rubber-coated metal bullets and tear gas. When he noticed that the tactic
was not working he ordered his forces to retreat and closed off the Wadi Ara
Talking about his decision to post snipers at the junction, Ron said, "The
purpose of positioning snipers was to enable us to respond immediately,
should shooting or other life-threatening situations emerge, in which we
would have no other way to respond."
Or criticized the former commander for not holding briefings on the riots,
specifically ones in which Arab citizens were killed. He once again
expressed amazement that Ron did not have real-time knowledge of the
incidents which took place on October 2 in the towns of Sahknin and Arabe in
which four Israeli-Arabs were killed.
Continuing his testimony, Ron spoke about the incidents which took place at
Umm al Fahm junction. He said that he did not recall receiving reports of
people being injured during the riots at the junction.
Relating to incidents which took place on October 5, during which Arab
protestors claimed that police had used live ammunition, Ron said, "There
were talks of live ammo being used - the word which kept being repeated was
'apparently.' We did not know who shot." The judges told Ron that he had not
been sufficiently informed on the actions that took place in his district.
Ron criticizes political echelon
In his testimony Monday, Ron, who made digs at former Public Security
minister Shlomo Ben-Ami and the political echelon, was composed and
confident as he tried to turn himself from the accused into the accuser. He
harshly criticized the Arab community's political leadership and the
establishment's treatment of Arabs, while not admitting to having taken
responsibility for the decision to open fire on the demonstrators. A dozen
Israeli Arabs and one West Bank resident were killed during the rioting.
Ron admitted that the police failed to foresee the events, citing a number
of reasons, including the Shin Bet's reduced intelligence presence in the
Arab sector. He said the October riots hit him and the Northern Command
"like thunder in a blue sky," a phrase used by former chief of staff Ehud
Barak explaining the army's position to the Shamgar commission that
investigated Baruch Goldstein's massacre of Muslims praying in Hebron's Tomb
of the Patriarchs on Purim in 1994.
The former commander surprised the commission saying that he knew of only
two occasions in which live ammunition was used during the riots - in
previous testimony, police officials cited eight such cases in the Northern
District alone - and that he had not received real-time information about
rioting in the north, even though officials testified that Ron had given
direct orders, through the police communications network, to the snipers.
The commission of inquiry has contacted former prime minister Ehud Barak to
schedule preliminary questioning over the events of last October. Barak will
also be called to testify in public as will Ben-Ami.