Five years after the October 2000 riots, and one day after the Police Investigation Unit announced it would not indict any policemen in relation to the riots, Alik Ron claims he is not a bitter man.
He says the statements he made to the Or Commission turned out to be true, and adds that he never intended to become Chief of Police or Internal Security Minister, the two appointments the commission recommended he should not be allowed undertake.
But despite his declaration, Ron cannot hide his bitterness over the case, especially on the timing of the commission's appointment, and its composition.
"There were no professionals there. They could not comprehend the things I said, they accused me of deploying snipers unnecessarily and illegally, which was nonsense. There was a complete lack of understanding," he says.
The Or Commission report held Ron "responsible for sniper shooting of live bullets on rioters in Umm el-Fahm, without justification and against police instructions. At least seven people were injured during the shooting, and at least one was killed.
"Ron was also responsible for sniper shooting in Nazareth," the report indicated.
Ron not surprised by differences in findings
Meanwhile, the Police Investigation Unit reached very different conclusions.
"In light of the severe rioting, the hard violence and the feeling of uncertainty the police faced, we find it impossible to determine… whether Alik Ron's decision to use sniper shooting against stone throwers… was illegal. We have therefore decided to close the case because of insufficient evidence," said the report released Sunday.
Ron says he is not surprised by the discrepancies between the two reports, claiming they should be attributed to the Or Commission's lack of professionalism.
He also claims the Commision's work caused a delay in the police investigation.
"The Police Investigation Unit is supposed to investigate whenever there exists a suspicion that police officers were involved in criminal offenses, including violent incidences with injuries," Ron says.
"This was obviously a war. Some scenes we just could not get to, bodies were snatched, findings disappeared. The Or Commission obstructed the police investigation by postponing it for two years. Add to that the lack of cooperation by the families, and the obstruction becomes obvious."
Police acted as trained to do
Looking back on the difficult, early days of the al-Aqsa Intifada, Ron said he believes police forces acted as they had been trained to do.
"The hundreds of police officers under my command faced a situation not many people can understand, especially not five years after it all happened. I hear so much ignorance and hypocrisy… I said it then, and I am repeating it now: Open the law books and look up 'obstruction of justice'," he says.
Ron says he understands why there was a need for the Or Commission, and says had it been up to him, rather than the prime minister, he would have appointed the commission the day after the riots.
"(Former Prime Minister) Ehud Barak put together the commission only after it was hinted that the Arabs might not vote for him. I never complained about the establishment of the commission itself, only about the timing, and some of the recommendations," Ron says.
"For instance, there was not one professional on the commission who could shed light on the material and share his knowledge. The police investigation, on the other hand, was run by professionals," he adds.
In addition, Ron wholeheartedly rejects any arguments about a cover up, but says that a cover up should not be confused with long standing discrimination against the Arab citizens of Israel.
"We are supposedly a democracy, and they (the Arabs) are full fledged citizens, but since the inception of the State not one Arab community had been established… there was also the disgraceful and stupid decision not to recognize the Shfaram murder as a terror attack… we do everything we can to appear humane, but none of the victims has been compensated. How do these two positions fit together?"
Accepts some decisions
Ron concludes by saying he doesn't feel he was wronged by the Commission, and claims he would have quit his position earlier; however he wanted to wait until the Commission released its conclusions.
"I definitely accept some of the commission's recommendations, though not without some discomfort. For instance, the fact that I can no longer become Chief of Police or Internal Security Minister.
"Had it been up to me, I also would have refused either appointment, because they carry so many connotations – Israeli Arabs would have considered such an appointment to be provocative," he says.
"I accept it not because I feel guilty. There is a minority of 18 percent in Israel. This is part of my worldview. I would have done the same."