JERUSALEM (Jan. 31)
While the Gaza Strip enjoyed a rare weekend without violence, Police Minister Shlomo Hillel today offered a heated defense of the performance of the Israeli border police in the area. Addressing the Engineers Forum in Haifa, Hillel denounced “the national sport of unjustifiably slandering the entire force” by means of “idle talk against men who fulfill their duty with devotion despite grave danger.” The border police are “subject to the same strict discipline that applies to every constable,” the 47-year-old Baghdad-born Laborite official declared, adding: “I am proud that non-Jews do their duty alongside Jews with such exemplary devotion. Such a unit deserves our admiration and praise, no defamation.”
The border police have been under criticism since the recent get-tough policy took effect in the Gaza Strip to suppress terrorist activities. Last Wednesday, two Knesset members, Meir Wilner of the pro-Moscow Rakach Communists, and Uri Avneri, chairman of the Haolam Hazeh New Force Movement, accused the border police of committing “atrocities.” The charges were denied by Interior Minister Yosef Burg. Meanwhile, the Army has confirmed that the official appointed by Chief of Staff Haim Bar-Lev to investigate complaints of unwarranted force in the Strip will deal only with the behavior of Army troops, not that of border police. Asked if the Police Ministry had appointed a similar investigator, a Ministry spokesman said last night that no investigations were necessary as no formal complaints had been filed.