Israeli Parties Discussing Sanctions Against the Police

Police Minister Ronni Milo is consulting with his Likud party and its coalition partners about whether to take disciplinary action against the top officers responsible for handling the bloody Oct. 8 riots on the Temple Mount.

Milo met Monday with national Police Chief Ya’acov Terner, one of the three ranking officers named in an investigatory commission’s report on the riots, in which at least 17 Arabs were fatally shot by Israeli police.

But speculation in the political community is that Terner will not be asked to resign.

The National Religious Party reportedly told Milo it opposed any dismissals from the force.

But Likud circles seem to favor measures against two other senior officers singled out for criticism. They argue that to do nothing would fly in the face of the report.

Rahamim Comfort, commander of police for the southern district, may be asked to take early retirement, these circles said. Arye Bibi, the Jerusalem area police chief, would be reassigned elsewhere.

Terner has set up a police study team to recommend security measures in the volatile Temple Mount area. One measure reported to be under consideration is the erection of a wire mesh fence on top of the Western Wall, to protect Jewish worshipers from stones thrown from the Temple Mount.

Meanwhile, the Israeli human rights group Betselem offered strong criticism Monday of the commission’s report, which was released last Friday and unanimously endorsed by the Cabinet on Sunday.

The report places most blame for the rioting on an Arab mob it says was incited by Moslem clergy. While it severely criticizes several high-ranking police officers for mishandling the situation, it justifies the use of live ammunition against Arab rock-throwers.

Betselem, so far the only Israeli group to dissent from the official view, faulted the commission for failing to mention the Arab version of events, whether or not it accepted them.

It also criticized the report for failing to deal adequately with what it considers the central issue, the use of live ammunition by the police.

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