The Acid Libel
The tale of the acid attack by disorderly evacuation resisters against Israeli troops and police was born on the spur of the moment amid the noise and clamor of the evacuation of the Kfar Darom synagogue in the Gaza Strip Thursday, Aug 18.
It was picked up without any sort of investigation with suspicious speed.
While the activists were still being handed down from the synagogue roof, OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen Dan Harel and Israeli police commissioner Moshe Karadi stood below. With shocked faces, they announced that the roof holdouts had poured acid and seriously injured the special border police unit members as they scaled ladders to remove them. The men were described as having fled in a panic, to strip off their burned uniforms and be sluiced down with water.
Live broadcasts from the scene reportedly hysterically that six ambulances had rushed the injured police officers to hospital.
Defense minister Shaul Mofaz announced he had asked the state attorney to file serious charges against the alleged acid-throwers.
Chief of staff Lt. Gen. Dan Halutz then declared that, as long as he was in uniform, none of the disorderly individuals who had raised a hand against a soldier or policeman in Kfar Darom would be accepted by the IDF.
By this time, the acid-in-the-synagogue story was being lapped up by the international media.
None heeded the denials issued by the alleged acid-throwers or the testimony of the deputy director of Beersheba’s Sorocca hospital, who treated the 75 policemen. He said he had seen no acid burns or any other marks of violence. Some showed slight irritation around the eyes, possibly from turpentine solution. They all arrived partially dehydrated, some feeling faint, but there was nothing medically amiss to warrant rushing any of the men in blue to the hospital.
Friday afternoon, Aug 19, Michael Eytan, chairman of the Knesset law committee, published a furious protest against “the acid lie.” He called it “a blood libel” designed to mar the atmosphere of restraint and mutual sympathy that had prevailed in the evacuation operation till then. Responding to the lawmaker’s inquiry, the hospital expressed itself surprised to see the men. They had no need of medical treatment and most were released soon after their admission.
debkafile‘s military sources find it hard to credit the published account that depicted members of the tough, elite Border Police Guard Valley unit, trained to withstand terrorist violence, as having panicked when paint and turpentine was thrown by screaming, distraught teenagers. This is what General Harel would have us believe. Interestingly, cameramen were not allowed shots of the “seriously injured men” being hosed down or carried on stretchers to the ambulances. Obviously, they walked there fully dressed on their own two feet.
This episode provides an insight into the mechanics of the witch-hunt, called by MK Eytan a blood libel, waged for almost two years against any individual or group going against the Sharon government’s disengagement plan. The latest tale is full of holes because it was put together in a hurry to upset a rare moment of genuine coming-together between opposite camps.
The general and the commissioner must surely have known the truth when they released their acid tale. Yet without even suggesting a proper investigation, they both vowed to settle scores with the people they falsely accused. General Harel thus laid himself open to severe censure – if not a demand for his resignation – before the chief of staff bars others from IDF service.
MK Eytan raised his voice against the defamation of a whole community by powerful figures. He is in a position to go further and demand a parliamentary inquiry to establish who devised the acid libel and caused senor officers to propagate it.