One of the policemen involved in the Ahuvya Sandak affair was arrested on Saturday by the Police internal affairs unit on suspicion of obstructing the investigation. The arrest comes against the background of weeks of protests and harsh criticism of the investigation the boy’s death allegedly when the car he was in was rammed by a chasing patrol car. Two more police officers were questioned on Saturday by the Department for Internal Investigations (aka: Machash / Department for Investigations of Policemen/ DIP) regarding the accident itself. One more officer was supposed to be questioned but is in coronavirus quarantine.
Ahuvya Sandak, 16, from the Gush Etzion settlement of Bat Ayin, was killed on Dec. 21 in a car accident during a police chase in Samaria. The police were chasing hilltop youths, including Ahuvya, whom they suspected of throwing rocks at Arab vehicles as they passed near Kochav HaShachar. During the chase, the police car collided with the fleeing vehicle, whose driver did not have a license. As a result of the collision—which witnesses said was an intentional ramming—the fleeing vehicle overturned and Ahuvya was killed. Four other young men who were in the car were slightly to moderately injured.
Attorney Menashe Yado of the Hoennu legal aid society which represents the family of the late Ahuvya Sandak as victims of crime, has filed several complaints in recent days over the obstruction of the investigative proceedings against the police officers involved in the killing of the boy. Yado passed clear evidence to the DIP regarding the alleged obstruction of the investigation by the police officers in question.
Attorney Benny Katz, who also represents the family, added: “The investigation has been a whitewash. We have obtained significant evidence that must be investigated, which we will submit soon.”
“A young boy was killed by policemen, and the investigation must be thorough and in-depth on all aspects of the evidence, including the obstruction of the investigative proceedings by the police officers involved,” Honenu stated, adding that “it must be noted that the police officers involved wrote their reports a full five hours after the incident, and were interrogated a full three days after the incident.” Those were long time gaps when much could have been done to obstruct the proceedings, according to Honenu.
“There are additional question marks regarding several issues surrounding the investigation, which we have pointed out as problematic,” the Honenu statement continued. “We saw that DIP officials also pointed to these issues as being problematic and questionable. We expect all the complaints against the police officers involved to be investigated.”
Honenu also noted that “so far we are very disappointed with the manner of the investigation, and from what has been published from DIP sources, the investigation must be conducted differently and change direction. The State of Israel must investigate and provide answers as to how Israeli police officers ended the life of a young boy. So far the police investigation has been weak and unprofessional. We hope the arrest of the policeman is not mere lip service to a public that demands answers, but the beginning of a real change of attitude in the DIP.”
Deputy State Attorney Momi Lemberger said the investigation is being conducted professionally and impartially. “I am sorry that instead of concentrating on the investigation, we are forced to respond repeatedly to idle allegations, some of which amount to libel,” Lemberger stated in his reply letter to the attorneys. The Deputy State Attorney rejected the allegations against DIP’s conduct, and said that he has full confidence in the head of DIP, Keren Bar-Menachem.
Lemberger also wrote that the decision on a joint investigation team for the police and DIP was made in light of the needs of the investigation, and the desire to investigate the truth at the bottom of the complex incident. He stressed that the interrogation of the police officers is carried out only by DIP personnel, and that the police officers who investigated the young men who were involved in the incident do not belong to the Judea and Samaria district.
That last part could be funny if it weren’t so serious.