More than 3,000 people demonstrated Saturday night in front of the offices of the Police Investigations Department at Mount Hotzvim in Jerusalem, calling for the closing of the Judea and Samaria district police, and protesting the whitewashing of the killing by police of Ahuvia Sandak.
Twenty-five protesters were arrested and 15 policemen were injured in clashes with police. According to police, some demonstrators blocked roads, threw stones at police officers and at a bus with detainees, caused damage to the infrastructure, and turned over a patrol car.
The late Ahuvia Sandak’s fiancée, Shalhevet Goldstein, was attacked by police and sustained a head injury during the demonstration.
Rabbi Dov Lior, the former the Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, Rosh Yeshiva of the Kiryat Arba Hesder Yeshiva, and head of the Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria, opened the rally.
Rabbi David Pendel, head of the Hesder Yeshiva in Sderot, told the demonstrators that “even one who murders unintentionally is called a murderer,” and called on police to “take responsibility for this murder.” He challenged the process whereby the police investigates its own crimes and called on the government to shut down the Judea and Samaria district police, from which, he said, an evil thing emerged. Only then should an independent commission investigate the ramming of a civilian car by a police car that was chasing it, which resulted in the death of Avihu Sandak.
“I’m from the south and I feel connected to the center and the heart,” Rabbi Pendel said. “We send blessings and love to Samaria. You are our messengers.”
Although the police internal affairs unit clarified over the weekend that the investigation into the police officers who were involved in the pursuit of the vehicle in which Sandak was killed continues, sources close to the investigation believe it will end without criminal indictments against the policemen in the chasing car who rammed and killed Sandak. This causes unrest among Sandak’s family and friends, as well as with the leader of Otzma Yehudit, attorney Itamar Ben-Gvir.
Ben-Gvir issued a statement saying: “If the assessment presented tonight is correct, and the Department of Internal Police Investigations (DIP) closes the case against the policemen in the Sandak case, then the DIP should be closed down, the earlier the better.”
Ben-Gvir contended: “Only last Friday the last of the detained youths have been released. It’s unclear how DIP can close the case without talking to the boys after they had been released—without the cops who are involved hearing the conversation. It’s unclear how the DIP ignores the wealth of evidence that shows police officers acted in violation of the law and in violation of police internal procedures.”
“DIP’s decision will only increase the rift and polarization in Israeli society,” Ben-Gvir warned.
Avihu Sandak’s father, Avraham, said at the rally: “We have lost our loved ones because of the baseless hatred directed at the hilltop boys and girls, those who settle the Land of Israel and love its soil. The settlements have always marked the boundaries of our country, these boys know what we have forgotten.”
He continued: “The captains of the state are the ones who sent the policemen and detectives of the Judea and Samaria station, with their huge budgets and the cruel policing that occasionally breaks the law, to fight these wonderful youths. The pain and destruction they often inflict have not damaged our boys’ spirits, but they led to the death of Ahuvia. From this stage, Ayelet and I call on the captains of the state to appoint an external commission of inquiry to investigate the truth – what happened in that unfortunate chase. A commission that would collect the footage from the roadside cameras and the police cameras and bring out the truth, and bring justice to the world.”
“We ask for explanations,” Avraham Sandak told the protesters: “Why did we not receive an official notification of our son’s death, why did he lie in the field for hours without being evacuated? Why were his outpost comrades detained for so many days? A wicked thing was done in Israel, and we demand repair.”