An unprecedented resolution taken by the Israeli minister of public security, Yitzhak Aharonovitch, stipulates that from now on the undercover “Arabized” counter-terrorism units (commonly known as the Arab Platoons) will be barred from acting against Jews and are to act against Arabs only.
The resolution was taken a couple of days ago in the wake of a certain activity conducted about two months earlier [on Oct. 4] by a special undercover “Arabized” unit against settlers in Mount Hebron in the southern West Bank, in the course of which the use of the special counter-terrorism units against Jews was exposed, stirring up much ado.
About two months ago [on Oct. 4], a most unusual event took place in Mount Hebron: Three Israeli policemen disguised as Palestinians arrived within reach of the “Har Sinai” farm, in the vicinity of the Susya settlement in the Southern Hebron Hills. The farm residents spotted the suspicious figures approaching the farm, and their suspicions rose when no herd of sheep was seen anywhere around. They urgently called the regional IDF Operations Room; however, they were told that the IDF was aware of it and that there was nothing to worry about.
The reassuring answer given to the farm residents was based on the fact that the IDF was in on the covert police activity. It failed, however, to reassure the farm residents, who were watching apprehensively as the suspicious figures of Palestinians were edging ever nearer to the farm.
In a video clip shot by one of the farm residents, which reached the Israeli daily newspaper Maariv, three figures looking like Palestinians (who eventually turned out to be disguised Israeli policemen) are seen approaching to a distance of only several dozen meters from the farm perimeter, occasionally bending down as they advanced towards the farm. At a certain point, when the three Palestinian-looking figures entered Israeli territory at the edge of the Susya settlement, four of the farm settlers went out toward them and a fight broke out between the sides.
The undercover policemen disguised as Palestinians pulled out electric shockers and tear gas sprays and used them to deter the Israeli settlers. In response, the farm youths on the scene attacked the undercover policemen with wooden clubs and injured one of them. The skirmish went on for a few minutes before larger police forces emerged from their hiding place, encircled the youths and arrested them.
Once exposed, the undercover counter-terrorism tactics adopted by the Israeli Police against Jews provoked furious reaction on the part of right-wing politicians and the leaders of the Judea and Samaria settlers.
The chairman of the Samaria settlers committee, Benny Katzover, appealed to Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch, requesting him to depose the police officers who had given the order to carry out the undercover activity by an “Arabized” unit against Jewish settlers.
In fact, the Samaria settlers committee indignantly lashed out against the minister of public security. However, his unexpected response has caught them by surprise. While under the law, the minister of public security is not supposed to interfere with the police operational activity tactics, in this case Minister Aharonovitch went against the rules and instructed the top brass of the Judea and Samaria Police to refrain from using undercover “Arabized” counter-terrorism forces against Jews.
The settlers’ leaders are 'satisfied'
According to a communiqué released by the Minister of Public Security’s bureau, “under the law, the Minister of Public Security is not supposed to interfere with or to manage operational activities of police forces. However, once the minister has learned of the event under discussion, the issue was raised for consideration in the framework of situation assessments and it has subsequently been made clear that from now on, the Israeli Police will be barred from using its special forces [against Jews] in the format used in the said event.”
In response to the announcement by the Public Security Ministry, Benny Katzover commented that “we are definitely satisfied that the minister has complied with our request and reached the called for conclusion that such activity launched by undercover ‘Arabized’ counter-terrorism units against Jews puts at risk all the parties concerned, the police forces as well as the civilians.”