Extreme right-wing elements slam incoming Shin Bet chief

Extreme conservative elements say first religious Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen will crack down on settlers to prove that he is not on their side. 'We have bitter experience with religious men in senior positions,' one source says.

Settlers stone police in nightly clash -

Israeli Police arriving at Givat Ronen to arrest resident of West Bank outpost greeted with stones, forced to send for backup, officers say. Settlers: Police behaved violently, injured three. MK compares internal security minister to Gaddafi

Published: 03.30.11

Extreme right-wing elements have expressed concern Tuesday that Yoram Cohen, the first religious Shin Bet chief, will take a tough stance against rightist activists.

"The feeling is that he will be worse than all his predecessors because of the media attack against him, because supposedly he is an emissary of the right," one source said. "He will try anything to prove that he isn't one."

The elements noted in a conversation with Ynet that this would not be the first time that religious Shin Bet officials cracked down on right-wing activists.

"We have a bitter experience with skull cap-wearers in senior ranks, who dedicated a large part of their operations to prove that they are not rightists," one source said. "We are already preparing the (protest) signs against him."

'No one knows Cohen'

The conservative elements also based their distrust of the incoming security agency chief on statements made by outgoing Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin during a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting a few months ago. They claim that while addressing the dangers that Israel is facing, Diskin brought up "price tag" activity.

"He showed a frightening presentation with graphic pictures of mosques going up in flames, in order to show the gravity of the situation and to create a type of demonization," a Knesset member who was present at the meeting said.

MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union), who also participated in the meeting, said: "When I asked him what sources the Shin Bet is investing in (prosecuting) Anat Kam and the anarchists, he replied that they are investing in (prosecuting) the 'Kahanist terrorists.'

"What happened was that Yuval Diskin wanted to appoint someone like him to continue to be in the Shin Bet even after he leaves," Ben Ari added. "There was pressure to do this within the Shin Bet as well. On the other hand, I know that officials in the Prime Minister's Office dragged their feet for a long time on the subject."

Ben Ari denounced Diskin, saying that "he forgot that I am the authority and he is the clerk." Addressing the incoming Shin Bet chief, he said that "no one knows who Yoram Cohen is, and how he will behave."

'Shin Bet harasses settlers'
Another rightist element said that the general feeling is that the Shin Bet is wasting its time and going out of its way to target settlers.

"It reeks of harassment, of persecution," he said. "The 'Pearlman Affair' is at the top of these events; it was the low point in the relations between the right and the Shin Bet."

Other elements within the conservative movement do not see the appointment of Cohen as such a major issue.

"We don't care who was appointed," said Meir Brettler, one of the leaders of the nationalist Hilltop Youth movement. "We don't trust the Shin Bet and this appointment is not what will restore it. If they want to restore the trust, they should close the Jewish Department. Thank God, this is not a banana republic and the government is the one that operates the Shin Bet."

Brettler agreed, however, that religious figures in senior government positions do more harm than good for the right. "They must show that they do not take sides," he said. "They also know us the best, so they know where to strike."

'Second contender hates settlers'

Right-wing activist Haim Pearlman, who was accused by the Shin Bet of killing four Palestinians, expressed contentment that the head of the Shin Bet's Jewish Department, known as "I", was not chosen to head the security agency.

"I don't know what role he had in my story, if he was aware of what they did to me or even was a part of it," he said. "I don't know this Yoram Cohen, so it's hard for me to express an opinion. What happened with me is that they tried to charge me with murder, to justify their existence."

Other right-wing activists shared Pearlman's relief that the head of the Jewish Department was not chosen for the position.

"The one who leads the Jewish Department, without exception, is not one of our supporters," said activists Noam Federman. "He does not love settlers, religious people or rightists. Our personal familiarity with the second contender (for the position) is not good, to say the least. He is known as a hater of settlers, and a prominent one at that."

Settlers stone police in nightly clash

Violent clashes between police and settlers broke out late Tuesday night at Givat Ronen outpost south of the West Bank city of Nablus. According to police, the settlers threw stones at the officers and damaged their patrol cars. However the residents say police used excessive force against them.

Police claim the incident began when they came to carry out an arrest warrant against one of the residents, causing dozens of people to gather around them. The rioters stoned their patrol cars, perforate the tires and caused great damage, officers said. One of the suspects snatched a vial of pepper spray and began to spray them with it, they added.

According to police, backup forces soon arrived and were also greeted with stones.

Police arrested nine suspected accused of assaulting the officers, disrupting a police operation, and causing damage to police cruisers. All suspects have been brought in for further questioning.

However the settlers involved claim police forces threw stun grenades at them and broke into their homes by force to nab suspects. According to them, the police officers behaved violently and injured three people.

About 25 families live in Givat Ronen outpost.

Following the West Bank clashes Knesset Member Michael Ben Ari (National Union) said: "Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch must remember he's not Gaddafi and that any regime that acts violently towards its citizens, beating, humiliating and punishing them collectively – his days are numbered."