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Commander admits: Undercover Israeli officers threw stones at soldiers in Bil'in

Seven years after the incident took place, an officer in the elite ‘Metzada’ unit of the Israel Prison Service admits that his subordinates threw stones at soldiers in Bil’in – as part of their mission.

IPS undercover agent arresting demonstrator in Bil'in, April 2005 (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

IPS undercover agent arresting demonstrator in Bil'in, April 2005 (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

At the time, almost nobody believed what the activists had said. The village of Bil’in was organizing one of its first mass demonstrations against the fence built on its lands, in the very early days of the local popular struggle. Organizers made a special point of making sure that no stones would be thrown at the soldiers at any point of this specific demonstration, in April 2005, even if the soldiers were to attack first – which was and to this day still is the trigger to attacks against them.

However, as the demonstration progressed towards the construction site of the fence, several young men of Arab appearance, unknown to organizers and thought to have come from neighboring villages, started throwing stones, giving the soldiers the queue cue they needed to disperse the demonstration with tear gas and make arrests. According to several witnesses, leaders in the popular struggle approached the young men and asked them to stop throwing stones – at which point the strangers pulled out concealed guns and handcuffs and arrested the people who asked them to stop. It would later be made known that these were combatants in the IPS elite anti-riot unit Metzada (“Masada”), lent to the army to infiltrate demonstrations and make them violent. And yet – most Israelis would not believe this story.

The mass demonstration in Bil'in, April 2005 (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

The mass demonstration in Bil'in, April 2005 (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

Now, seven years later, the IPS admits that its combatants threw stones at soldiers. As published in Haaretz Monday morning, a commander in the Metzada unit admitted as much in a trial against MK Mohammed Barake (Hadash). Barake, who attended the demonstration, is charged with assault against a Border Police officer at the scene, apparently as an attempt to de-arrest a local activist captured by the undercover agents. During his testimony the commander told the court that his subordinates had thrown stones “in the general direction” of soldiers. He and other unit members also repeated the claim that they saw Barake strangling a policeman.

(A mass demonstration in Bil’in, 2005. Undercover police reveal themselves after little more than six minutes into the clip)

The trial is only taking place now since Members of Knesset can only be prosecuted after a long procedure that requires special permission from a Knesset committee. Barake is also charged with assault against another policeman in a Tel Aviv demonstration during the Second War on Lebanon in 2006.

MK Barakeh and police at a Tel Aviv demonstration against 2nd Lebanon War, 2006 (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

MK Barakeh and police at a Tel Aviv demonstration against Second Lebanon War, 2006 (Oren Ziv / Activestills)

The same Metzada unit is also responsible for the killing of two Palestinian inmates and abuse of many others – as exposed last year on Israel’s Channel 2 show “Uvda.” An internal IPS video broadcast during the show proves that the unit initiated a drill with the aim of lifting the combatants’ spirits. The drill went bad, a riot started, and inmates were killed even though no risk came to the servicemen’s lives.

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    1. Palestinian

      False flag operations , same as Musta’aribeen ,same tacitc they used before and after 1948 in Palestine , Iraq ,Egypt …its part of their manipulation and deception.Typical Zionists

      Reply to Comment
    2. XYZ

      How would you compare this with the official Palestinian leadership-both FATAH and HAMAS – sending suicide bombers to blow up school buses, restaurants, synagogue courtyards filled with women and children, etc? I would say that is even worse than the incident described above, wouldn’t you?
      Typical of the Palestinian leadership.

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    3. Palestinian

      @ABC-D What does your deception have to do with what you call suicide bombers ? you couldnt come up with a defense so you had to bring up this issue ,right ? I agree with you ,we shouldnt lose Palestinian souls , we have to adopt the Israeli style ,push a button and voila dozens of people killed within one second .You women (who join the Israeli terror forces) and chosen children arent more precious than ours .You synagogues arent more valuable than our mosques and churches .Israel has the most sophisticated weapons worldwide which can target ants but still massacre civilians and destroy the infrastructure to make life impossible for the unwanted non-Jewish indigenous population.I would love to see how the chosen Israelis would react if they live under such brutal occupation ,oh just take a look at your cattle of settlers.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Palestinian

      your *

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    5. Jack

      It is these kinds of events that make less and less people trust the israeli government when they claim something about palestinians or their security. Israel delegitimize itself.

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    6. The Bil’in demonstrations ultimately became a call for the IDF to obey a High Court ruling and move the fence, which the IDF refused to do for, what, two or more years. XYZ’s comparison with suicide bombing is specious; he wants others to get angry so he can point to the the hating enemy. Don’t give it to him. Or her.
      If the incident with the MK began after the undercover Masada began throwing stones in the direction of the IDF, the incident constitutes entrapment. Baring real physical harm on the part of the MK, the court should dismiss the case as tainted from the State. Until the courts do this, the security forces know they can act with impunity. It will not be the plight of the Palestinian which (some day) pivots the courts, but their anger at being ignored by the State (witness the prison police’s refusal to allow another MK, also a doctor, to examine a faster, as ordered by a Court Justice). Neither morality nor justice will pivot the courts, but institutional protection; that right leaning Justices now dominate the Court will make the issue raw.
      That Masada needed to infiltrate a nonviolent action shows real fear against such protest. The State knows only force in this area, and needs to contrive all confrontation as violence. A good sign.
      Former Chief Justice Barak argued that the courts have absorbed the prior jurisdictions on what is now Israel, having their tools at hand. The UK employed its common law–save for juries–which means that the present courts can recognize tainted hands; the State cannot bring a case when it has effectively created the case by conspiracy or a direct violation of the law. The courts also have Habeus Corpus, allowing them to pull in prisoner into their venue to decide if they are justly held. The tools are there. The courts have to begin to use them. I continue to believe, with each report such as this one, that the security apparatus is creating institutional conflict which will mobilize the courts in self protection.
      I know all of this is pedantic. But it is all I can think of saying. Every time I come to 972 I am dumb founded at what is happening.

      Reply to Comment
    7. max

      Is there any difference between the practice of and the practice of any police informant or mole? Is the claim that this practice, common in all countries, should be dropped in all cases?

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    8. Palestinian

      Is there a difference between a soldier and an policeman?is there a difference between policemen working “inside” the borders of their country and soldiers occupying 4 million people ?how many countries are occupying and stealing land ?which country is working against 20% of its population considering them a “ticking bomb”….?

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    9. I can confirm that this practice is pretty universal. The so-called ‘Black Blocs’ which pop up at western demonstrations and start smashing windows, giving the police the pretext they need to ‘kettle’ everybody, are basically the same thing.

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    10. anonymous moose

      I think that when you wrote “giving the soldiers the queue they needed” you meant ‘cue’, not ‘queue’.

      Except that, thank you for writing. I find that the fact that the Israeli Army uses Agent Provocators does not actually influence the opinions of Israelis I talk to: they follow the standard cycle of “that can’t be right” –> “oh, this guy gives proof so it’s right, so there must be a justification” –> “the Arabs started after all, so they’re much worse than us” –> “the discussion has been going on for long enough that I forgot it’s right, so let’s deny it again”.

      If I remember correctly, a high-ranking officer in the field (some Aluf Mishne or something) already admitted back in the day that Israeli soldiers (Mistaarvim) are throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, which actually might have been the final straw in pushing me to find out what’s really happening in Bil’in and finally led to my understanding of the Israeli regime as an Apartheid regime. But the information’s been out there for a while, and every time I discuss it with someone, I don’t think it make s a real difference in their opinion. Denial is a power tool for dealing with Cognitive Dissonance, and in such extreme cases, it tends to drown out logic.

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    11. XYZ

      I am pointing out that the image of the Palestinian leadership of being saintly knights fighting for freedom against a monstrous Zionist regime is garbage and that the Palestinians regime, and those who support its tactics in using vile attacks like the suicide bombings is in no position to complain about anything. The subject of this thread is small potatoes and doesn’t interest me, as long as the Palestinian rank-and-file support the terrorist onslaught against Israel.
      A Palestinian-apologist here recently talked about the “mass civil protest of 1936” as being supposedly some harbinger of a hoped-for repeat today. Well, in 1936 there was also a terrorist onslaught that killed a lot of Jews and which ended up having the Mufti’s gangs also kill a lot of Arabs. So the person who posted that wants to show how wonderful the strikes and supposedly “non-violent” actions of that period are to serve as inspiration for today, as if we can forget the mass terror that accompanyed it. The “civil protests” can’t be viewed in isolation, they are part and parcel of the larger war against the Jews and Israel. As long as the Palestinians rank-and-file allow their regime to support bloody terrorism against Israel, whining about things like this thread doesn’t interest me.

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    12. Jack

      Your usless tactic of trying to portray Israel as a “normal” state is getting absurd.
      No, in the majority of states in the world the police or military dont fight their own´police or military just to provoke fighting.

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    13. annie

      Maj.-Gen. Amos Gilad, director of Policy and Political-Military Affairs at the Ministry of Defense: “We don’t do Gandhi very well.”

      Reply to Comment
    14. sh

      “I am pointing out that the image of the Palestinian leadership of being saintly knights fighting for freedom against a monstrous Zionist regime is garbage and that the Palestinians regime, and those who support its tactics in using vile attacks like the suicide bombings is in no position to complain about anything. ”
      There’s something *you* don’t get, XYZ. *We* are complaining about it, not the Palestinians. This got to the courts because it involved an MK and the courts *had* to deal with it. Thus Jews of this country will have to deal with the fact that their own military, entrusted as it is with their safety alone, lies to them.
      “whining about things like this thread doesn’t interest me”
      Then please stay away from it and find one that does.

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    15. Jack, it’s not “just to provoke fighting,” it’s to provide pretexts for clamping down on peaceful protests. In the nature of things it’s pretty hard to prove, and people are tarred as conspiracy theorists for suggesting it, which puts them into a sort of internet ghetto, but it’s a global phenomenon.

      Reply to Comment
    16. Jack

      Yes provoke them to use violence and therefore giving the police a right to fight them.

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    17. “I am pointing out that the image of the Palestinian leadership of being saintly knights fighting for freedom against a monstrous Zionist regime is garbage…”
      The village protests are organised at a grassroots level by the villagers, not by any Palestinian political faction. They are protesting against injustices committed against their village, usually the annexation of land.
      These villagers have not harmed any civilian and they have not called for violence against civilians. Attempting to tar them as supporters of suicide bombing is rather a desperate way to justify army behaviour. You’re clutching at straws now.

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    18. a

      What more can you expect from thieves?

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    19. XYZ

      Let’s say that you are correct and the villagers do not approve of violence. Since the struggle is to get Israel to do what they want, it is vital to get Israeli public support for it. I presume that was Haggai’s motive in posting this. However, few Israelis are able, in their minds, to separate this supposedly “clean struggle” with the larger war against Israel. That is my point…if the Palestinians don’t clearly reject illegimate methods of protest and violence against Israel, they will not get the political support they want from the Israeli public.
      I am not disputing what Haggai is saying here…you should all know that the police and SHABAK have used provocation tactics against Right-wing/pro=settler protestors as well. ALL of these types of actions must be condemned, period.

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    20. max

      “giving the police the pretext they need to ‘kettle’ everybody”
      Is it? Where do you read this, unless you come with a preset mind?
      I’m convinced that the army and the police sometimes use questionable – possibly sometimes illegal – methods.
      But unlike many readers here, I see no proof to that here. That’s why I compared it to common methods: it’s not about provocation (nowhere was it claimed that the Metzada people threw the first stone) but about acquiring credibility in the crowd.

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    21. Peter H

      “I am pointing out that the image of the Palestinian leadership of being saintly knights fighting for freedom against a monstrous Zionist regime is garbage and that the Palestinians regime, and those who support its tactics in using vile attacks like the suicide bombings is in no position to complain about anything” – XYZ

      Yes, if the only the Palestinians elected pristine men of peace like Menachem Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, & Ariel Sharon…all would be right in Israel/Palestine.

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    22. the other joe

      There is a word for this, and it isn’t justice.
      @xyz – is there anything you will not defend? If the police threw stones at themselves and used that as an excuse to round up young people and shot them in the head, would you say it was legitimate because some other group of Palestinians were blowing people up?
      Do you have no backbone? What is so bad about admitting people on your own side did something fucking stupid, illegal and wrong?

      Reply to Comment
    23. XYZ

      I specifically said that these actions must be condemned. Didn’t you read that?

      Peter H-
      The official line of the Liberal Progressives, like those here at 972 are that “the Palestinians are a saintly people and the Zionists are monsters”, more or less. If the Palestinians are such saints THEY WOULD NEVER STOOP TO DOING NEFARIOUS THINGS LIKE THE ZIONISTS DO.
      Given that, you are going to have to explain to me how the official Palestinian leadership (both FATAH and HAMAS) has organized and still justifies atrocities like mass suicide bombings bombings with the support of the Palestinian public.

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    24. Sinjim

      It’s quite beautiful actually. The Zionists send their own men to liberate Palestinians from their own occupation. What other country is so generous? If all you anti-Semites could get past your hatred of Jews and recognize that this is for the good of the Palestinian people, you would see how Israel is a light unto the nations.
      I hope and pray for the day when all countries behave like Israel does. We will have world peace then.

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    25. the other joe

      @xyz – there are no ‘the Palestinians’, get that through your head. Peaceful protesters against the Wall are not the same as the suicide bombers. To compare the two is just pathetic.

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    26. Jack

      “Given that, you are going to have to explain to me how the official Palestinian leadership (both FATAH and HAMAS) has organized and still justifies atrocities like mass suicide bombings bombings with the support of the Palestinian public.”

      Thats Israel you are talking about, because compared to Fatah, Hamas its not them who killed 1500 people in the last bigger conflict. Partly because Hamas and Fatah follow ceasefires compared to Israel and support a settlement based on international law.

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    27. Leen

      Is it me, or does it seem strange that someone is comparing ethnicity (something you cannot change) to a political ideology?

      Also, I don’t see the point in bringing suicide bombings in an article of non-violent protest. I think everyone can agree that suicide bombing is morally wrong. So why use it to slander non-violent protest and resistance? What are the Palestinians suppose to do, just sit there and wait to be ethnically cleansed and annexed? For god’s sake this is a non-violent protest. Would you rather they turn to violent means? For god’s sake…

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    28. Palestinian

      Actually Leen ,I do think what they call suicide bombings should be discussed separately.Although we no longer hear about them but still Zionists use this issue to justify their terrorism and land theft.We’ve never felt they way those individuals did,we’ve never experienced what they did experience for decades.Why did they do it ?

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    29. the other joe

      @Palestinian, I am very happy to argue about the ethics of violence at any time with anyone. But that is not the issue here – the protests against the Wall cannot be considered to be violent. Even the thin garment of stone-throwing is proven to be one woven by the IDF.

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    30. the other joe

      As a footnote, I’d be very surprised if this was an isolated incident. I have heard many reports of people starting throwing stones at Wall protests whom villagers have never seen before.

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    31. Palestinian

      The other Joe ,I’m looking forward to argue with you.Its gonna be a long argument/or a discussion.

      Reply to Comment
    32. ginger

      Israelis will lie, cheat, steal, use false flag operations, use the holocaust card and everything under every rock under the sun to get what they want

      No holds barred

      That’s why they must their cute little own private Idaho must be STOPPED with external pressure rather than every waiting for them to ever change or civilize – because of course they won’t

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    33. Here’s a machiavellian theory if ever I heard one:

      Mohamed El-Ghazi interviews Alain Soral (autotransl)
      Algerie Patriotique, May 7 2012

      Q: Why do you think Bernard-Henri Lévy has been working so hard to encourage Arabs to rise up against their governments?
      A: As an agent of Israel, Bernard-Henri Lévy is working on the Greater Israel project, which is to willingly let Israel be surrounded by ”radical Islamist” regimes, in order to justify, in the eyes of world public opinion, a defensive war of annexation, as Israel has already done three times.

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