MKs Slam Police 'Unrestrained Use of Violence' in Druze Town

Peki'in resident: Druze who think logically will not send their sons to the IDF to give their blood for Israel.

Many MKs - particularly from Arab political parties - responded angrily Tuesday to clashes between police and residents of the Galilee Druze town of Peki'in that left 40 people wounded earlier in the day.

Two of the wounded were in serious condition, and 27 police officers were among those hurt.

One of the harshest was that of MK Majali Wahabi of Kadima, who demanded the dismissal of Northern District Police Chief Major General Shimon Koren for the "unrestrained use of violence against civilians." Wahabi, who lives in the neighboring village of Beit Jann, also called for the appointment of an inquiry commission to investigate the incident.

Balad (National Democratic Alliance) called on Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter to appoint a state commission of inquiry immediately and to suspend the police officers responsible for "the provocative entry into the village." MK Said Naffaa said, "The police behaved toward the residents of Peki'in as though they were enemies who had to be subdued by force, not civilians with rights."

MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) demanded the immediate removal of the roadblocks surrounding Peki'in and an investigation into police conduct.

He also called on Environmental Protection Minister Gideon Ezra to see to the removal of the cellular phone antennas from the village and environs.

Peki'in residents says police entered village 'like thieves' Tempers were short among the dozens of Peki'in residents who came to Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya Tuesday to visit relatives injured in the clashes with the police, who were harshly criticized for their handling of the crisis.

"The police came in like thieves and humiliated us. Luckily, we have proud young people who would not stand for the humiliation and chased the police out of the village," Naim Marzuk, 52, said. Marzuk had come to visit a 17-year-old relative who had been injured by live fire.

"The police think that this is another arrest sweep in the territories that will go by the board," Marzuk said. "We are prepared to die and not be humiliated."

Marzuk said the police had cursed the women and the Druze community in general, and had desecrated their place of prayer. He said that from his home he can see New Peki'in where the antenna that sparked the violence was installed, and that police patrol the area.

"A few days ago, when the young men took down the antenna, the police did nothing. Only when they returned to the village did the police arrive to arrest them. Why? They don't count the village." Naim's wife, standing next to him, said "Now, they'll count it, don't you worry."

Naim and others say relations with the Jews who live in New Peki'in and the few that still live in the village are excellent, but that the man on whose property the antenna was located was behind all the trouble. "We approached him a number of times and asked him to remove the antenna because of the many cases of cancer in the village. He told the New Peki'in [neighborhood council] 'I don't care, let all the Arabs die.'"

Hani Sued, who said he was beaten by police nightsticks and whose face bore the signs, said he heard sounds of explosions and when he went down to investigate "out of nowhere dozens of special forces police jumped me and beat me with their batons and their fists. I told them I'm not involved and I just want to help. Nothing helped."

"Any Druze who thinks logically will not send his son to the army to give his blood for the state. We serve all our lives and this is what we get?" Sued said. His son, who is to be drafted in a few months, was shot with live fire yesterday.

Not everyone shared Sued's opinion. Jalal Sued, also from Peki'in said things would calm down. "We will continue to serve the state and it will continue to serve us," he said.