Case closed: Police ‘relieved, frustrated’
One officer welcomes decision not to indict police in connection with deaths of 13 Arab-Israelis but says investigation failed to get to fully resolve issue. Another officer slams earlier commission of inquiry, says it served as court martial
The decision not to indict any policeman in relation to the October 2000 riots came as a welcome relief to officers, but also prompted police to blast an earlier commission of inquiry that was much more critical of officers’ conduct.
"I am relieved I will not be indicted, but I feel frustrated that neither the Police Investigation Unit, nor the Or Commission, got to the bottom of what happened," superintendent (ret.) Guy Reif said Sunday.
Reif served as the commander of the Misgav police station when the riots erupted on October 2000, leading to the deaths of 13 Arab-Israelis.
While the Or Commission determined that Reif had "unjustifiably" shot at two civilians, causing their deaths, the Police Investigation Unit stated that "it is impossible to determine whether Reif's shooting was illegal."
Reif quit the police after the Or Commission published its conclusions. He claims that the accusations against him were never investigated, but rather taken at face value by the Commission.
"Instead of verifying whether the shooting was justified, they preferred to present me as a lunatic and take me out of the system," Reif said.
Reif claims that both commissions were not after the truth, but rather, after newspaper headlines.
"The Or Commission and the Police Investigation Unit never conducted a real investigation. If policemen and officers who lied to the Commission are still part of the system, then something must be wrong," he said.
'Or Commission was like court martial'
The case against Brigadier General (ret.) Moshe Valdman, who the Or Commission claimed was responsible for using unjustified live sniper shooting, was also closed.
Valdman, who served as commander of the Valley District during the riots, was forced to retire following the Or Commission conclusions. Today he said the Police Investigation Unit’s decisions backs his claims that the Or Commission conducted a superficial investigation, and that it was wrong in its conclusions.
"I repeatedly said that the Or Commission's appointment was a political move, and that its conclusions were hasty and unfounded. The Commission's conduct was reminiscent of a court martial," Valdman said.
"The Commission's conclusions were damaging to both the policemen and the Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. A thorough examination revealed that not only was there not enough evidence, but that in fact there was no evidence at all," he said.
"Somehow the tables were turned. The people who went out to demonstrate, who hurt civilians, blocked roads, who looted and set on fire – they were presented as the ones who were harmed and offended," Valdman concluded.