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Fw: Former northern police chief: I didn't consult over snipers

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  • Ami Isseroff
    Former northern police chief: I didn t consult over snipers
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 4, 2001
      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.
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