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Inappropriate police-border police operations revealed

Updated: Apr 11


Border policeman filming the boys; Photo credit: Honenu
Border policeman filming the boys; Photo credit: Honenu

Thursday, February 6, 2020, 15:47 Investigative material from the Police Investigation Unit on an incident in which border policemen filmed boys from Yitzhar immersing naked in a spring customarily used by residents as a mikveh (ritual bath) – see here and here for the case that Honenu handled – reveals that border policemen in the area are operating according to orders from the Central Unit of Yehuda and Shomron Police, who are in contact with two companies of border police in the areas of Yitzhar and Itamar. Through a joint WhatsApp group called “Central Unit/Border police operations” the police transmit orders to the border policemen, including requests to photograph residents, enforce traffic regulations and gather intelligence in Jewish communities. Honenu director Shmuel (Zangi) Meidad: “This conduct is outrageous. A soldier serving in regular army service to defend his country is not supposed to be the intelligence branch of the Yehuda and Shomron Police, spying on the Jewish residents.” Policemen from the Central Unit of the Yehuda and Shomron Police are using a joint WhatsApp group to operate border policemen serving regular service in combat units. The Unit of Nationalist Crime in the Central Unit of Yehuda and Shomron Police, whose entire purpose is to police the Jewish communities and their residents, is operating for their own needs, border policemen serving in the area. In the investigation of Alon Reuveni, the intelligence coordinator of the Department of Nationalist Crime in the Central Unit of Yehuda and Shomron Police, he told the interrogator that he worked with the regular companies serving in the area of Tapuah: “I alternate every three months working with each of the companies. They remain in the area between Yitzhar and Itamar. They respond to incidents in those areas and receive from me the necessary information for the actions, whether it’s enforcing a closed military zone, handling drivers without a license, gathering intelligence. I ask them to check things.” Reuveni further explained how he communicated with the border police: “By telephone and by WhatsApp. Almost never with border policemen, mostly with the commanders: the deputy assistant chief of staff for operations, a company commander, squad commanders out in the field.” Reuveni added that he is accustomed to ask border policemen to photograph residents of the Jewish communities: “When there is contact between the border police and the residents it is usually recorded. My request is that every contact be recorded.” According to the investigative material, a border policeman records the contact with Jewish residents and then transfers the documentation to Reuveni in the WhatsApp group: “In the group everyone sees it. There were a few incidents which stayed in personal accounts, but mostly the documentation is transferred in the group.” One of the border policemen described the group member “Alon from the Central Unit. He’s in charge of the Central Unit of Yehuda and Shomron Police. Alon says to photograph faces. That’s always what we do. And then we send them to the [WhatsApp] group with the Central Unit.” Another border policeman serving as a patrol Jeep commander described how he called Alon from the Central Unit: “I told him that I could see the Yitzharnikim (Yitzhar residents) on Kippa 650. I asked him, ‘Should I photograph?’ and he told me, ‘Yes, send me the photographs.’ That’s how we work with the Central Unit.” According to screen shots from the WhatsApp group border police commanders report to policemen in the Central Unit with starting times of shifts and their locations. Honenu director Shmuel (Zangi) Meidad: “This conduct is outrageous. A soldier serving in regular army service to defend his country is not supposed to be the intelligence branch of the Yehuda and Shomron Police, spying on the Jewish residents. The soldiers did not enlist to enforce traffic regulations and gather intelligence information about their brothers, but rather to protect the State and its citizens. “The discovery of a joint WhatsApp group in which information is transferred from soldiers in the border police to policemen in the Central Unit should shock anyone with a brain in his head. Soldiers in regular service have been turned into puppets by intelligence agents steeped in controversy (the Department of Nationalist Crime), who are operating them against a civilian population.” Elhanan Gruner, a Yitzhar resident and the editor of the HaKol HaYehudi website, described the situation: “The reality in which border policemen turn into agents of the Department of Nationalist Crime in the Yehuda and Shomron Police, which relentlessly persecutes Jewish residents of Yehuda and Shomron, including by detaining members of rapid response squads, creates an absurd situation of soldiers, instead of defending the residents, working against them. The incident at the spring in which policemen filmed naked boys in such a damaging way, illustrates this situation. This produces friction between them and the residents, and creates an understanding among the youth that the border policemen aren’t here to protect them, but rather to persecute them.” Honenu Attorney Moshe Poleski explained that, “This is scandalous conduct. It is unconscionable. Border policemen in regular service are not supposed to serve as an intelligence gathering branch of the police. Additionally, a soldier is supposed to receive orders only from the army. The fact that senior border police officers received orders from policemen is a break from the concepts familiar to us concerning proper military conduct. It is evident that there has been inappropriate involvement between the fields of police action, the legality of which is questionable, and military operations which should protect the area residents.” Poleski added: “The very fact that soldiers were documenting customary behavior of residents, including youth, on a regular basis, is itself a criminal violation, a violation of privacy. In fact the police, in cooperation with the border police, have turned the soldiers into informants for the Department of Nationalist Crime. It is a disgrace.”

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