The commander of an elite Israeli undercover unit has admitted that soldiers dressed up as Palestinians and threw stones at Israeli soldiers during non-violent demonstrations beginning in 2005, in the village of Bil’in in the central West Bank.The Palestinians who participated in the non-violent demonstrations had insisted at the time that the stone throwers were undercover forces, but the Israeli media and public were extremely sceptical of this claim. The commander of the controversial ‘Masada’ undercover unit has now admitted that the soldiers did indeed dress up as Palestinians and throw stones at soldiers in order to provoke a confrontation.
Israeli journalist Haggai Matar wrote in +972 magazine Friday, “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 excuse 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.”
The new admission by the commander of the unit was made in the context of the trial of Israeli Knesset member Mohammed Baraka, who participated in the 2005 protest, and has been charged with assaulting an Israeli officer. Baraka allegedly tried to intervene when the undercover agents pulled out guns and began arresting protest organizers.