Deputy FM Whbee: Israel racially discriminates against its citizens
Police probe finds no evidence of wrongdoing, says officers acted in self-defense in Peki'in shooting that wounded 40 Druze protesters.
Druze lawmaker and Deputy Foreign Minister Majalli Whbee (Kadima) was outraged Thursday by the Police Investigation Department's decision not to bring charges or disciplinary actions against the officers who were accused of opening fire on demonstrators during a protest last year in the Druze town of Peki'in.
"It turns out that in the state of Israel it is permissible to shoot citizens, provided that they are the right citizens," Whbee said, referring to the fact that those injured were not Jewish, but Druze. He added that "It is evident that the blood of some is more valuable than that of others."
The unit investigated three complaints issued by civilians who were wounded by gunfire during the demonstrations, and all three were closed due to a lack of evidence.
In addition, the unit found that several other instances of gunfire lacked credible evidence to indicate wrongdoing.
Police issued a statement on Thursday saying that they didn't see evidence that police "did not respond as trained to the threats they were facing, and there is no way to deny that there lives were in danger as well."
Balad chairman Jamal Zahalka also spoke out against the decision: "The PIU has become have become experts at closing investigations against policemen who used violence against Arab protesters. The Arab public has lost its trust in this institution, in which policemen investigate other policemen."
The clash in Peki'in left 40 people injured, among them two seriously, and erupted when a large police force entered the village to make arrests over a vandalized cellular phone antenna. Among the wounded were 24 police officers and 13 civilians, and three suffered gunshot wounds.
Following the incident, the police force was accused of using undue force and failing to handle the incident in a safe manner. The police commissioner consequently appointed a committee to investigate the conduct of the officers during the incident.
Police commissioner Dudi Cohen told the Knesset Internal Affairs committee in Februrary that if necessary, he would repeat the operation.
The members of the committee found a string of failures in the conduct of the large police force that arrived in Peki'in in October 2007 to carry out the arrests. Among other things, the committee found that the operation did not achieve its express goal and its consequences were dire. "The operation was leaked ahead of time, which eliminated the element of surprise," the committee wrote.
"The operation was not properly organized; the plan did not rely on the available intelligence; the definition of the operation was altered shortly before it was carried out; a gap was discovered between the actual plan and the officers' and commanders' understanding of it; police officers were left without proper command in the midst of a public disorder, and the chain of command was dysfunctional," the committee found.