Today, February 1, 2006, the 3rd day of Shvat, will be a day that will be remembered in Jewish history. It is not a day like all days. This day has the dubious distinction of being a day when the battle for Eretz Yisroel has started. We witnessed a day that the genesis of a Jewish revolution began. We witnessed a day that will mark one of the darkest chapters in Jewish history.
Today we witnessed Jews being evacuated from their homes in the hilltop village of Amona, near the settlement of Ofra in the Shromron. Today we witnessed Jewish police and soldiers in the State of Israel brutalize, beat and dehumanize their fellow Jews. Today we witnessed Israeli police on riot horses and equipped with riot batons facing off with their fellow Jews. Today, brave and courageous Jews from the settlement of Amona and other settlements in Judea and Samaria, stood tall and resisted orders from the Israeli government to leave their homes. The Israeli government has ordained that nine "illegal" houses were built on the outskirts of Amona and therefore had to be evacuated and demolished.
The Jews in Israel are no strangers to evacuations. In the summer of 2005 the world witnessed the Israeli government evacuate 9000 Jews from their homes in Gush Katif. The world witnessed the burning and demolition of synagogues and yeshivos. Today we are witness to the Israeli government's callous treatment of the Gush Katif refugees. Today we witness the homelessness and poverty of these same people who had lovingly built an economically and spiritually prosperous community.
And the evacuations did not stop there. Just a few days ago we witnessed the evacuation of 12 Jewish families from their homes in the holy city of Hevron. We witnessed Israeli police and soldiers facing off with youngsters from Hevron who were protesting the actions of the Israeli government. The neighborhood in question was "the shuk" region of Hevron, located in the Shalhevet Pass neighborhood, near the Avraham Avinu synagogue. Just a few feet away from the Ma"aras HaMachpela, the ancient burial ground of our forefathers and foremothers. Of Avraham, Yitzchak, Yaakov and of Sara, Rivka and Leah. Once again, the Israeli government had ruled that the homes that these Jews were living in were "illegal" and must be removed. Yes, the Israeli government is still making territorial concessions to the Arab enemy.
Concerning the decision of the Israeli government to evacuate Jewish residents living in "the shuk" of the Avraham Avinu neighborhood in Hevron, it is imperative that the record should be clear on whose property this belongs to.
Contrary to a Jerusalem Post report, which stated that the Jews are resisting "the forcible evacuation of Jewish families living in 'Palestinian' homes," the land in question was never used for Arab homes. The truth is a Jew named Chaim Bajaio purchased it on behalf of the Jewish community around 1807. Jewish residents had lived there for 250 years before that. The purchase contract referred to the "Street of the Jews." In 1929, however, Arab residents massacred their Jewish neighbors, murdering sixty-seven. Survivors were hurriedly evacuated and the Jewish houses and synagogues were abandoned.
An Israeli Supreme Court ruling did not deny that the land was Jewish-owned, but ordered the Jews to be moved out in order that "sinners not go unpunished." This statement was referring to the Jews having moved into the buildings without Israeli Defense Force [IDF] permission. Hevron spokesman Noam Arnon said at the time, "The Supreme Court recently decided that the land should be given to the Arabs, even though it is clearly Jewish land that was robbed from us... The Court simply ignored the fact that this is Jewish land."
The residents of Hevron left their homes after reaching an agreement with the government of Israel which stated that they and/or other Jewish families could move back in at a later date. Apparently, that "agreement" was abrogated by the Israeli government very soon after it had been made. According to news reports, the Assistant to the Attorney General, Shai Nitzan, told Army Radio that absolutely no agreement exists with Hevron residents allowing them to return to the Shalhevet neighborhood. "It seems that those who were squatting there preferred to leave amid rumors that they would be allowed back even though no such agreement exists," Nitzan told army Radio's Razi Barkai. He added that the area was now considered a closed military zone and promised that the homes in the Shalhevet neighborhood would not only be emptied, but would be demolished as well.
So much for the integrity of the government of Israel.
Taking this into account, it is understandable that the anger of the thousands of protestors at Amona would be intense. The Yesha Rabbis Council issued this statement: "We are shocked by the cruel and horrific abuse perpetrated by Israeli police upon Jews... 37,000 demolition orders are ready to be executedm and of all of them, the Supreme Court and the police chose precisely this one in Amona, with the goal of destroying the religious-Zionist public."
The Magen David Adom emergency medical service reported that over 250 protestors were injured by Israeli police. Most were head injuries sustained by the batons that the police used. Protestors were evacuated to hospitals in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Hundreds of other wounded protestors were treated in Amona itself. It took the Israeli forces over six hours to demolish the nine houses in Amona. Two Israeli Knesset members were also injured to the mellee. MK Aryeh Eldad sustained a fractured hand and subsequently fainted. MK Effie Eitan sustained a serious head injury at the hands of Israeli police and was injured by a horse.
One girl who participated in the protest arrived home with bruises on her face and leg, saying, "I got out safely only by miracle." She went to tell her story. "We were outside the 5th house, with the goal of forming a line to stop the police from climbing into the windows. We had planned in advance, because of modesty and the like, that when the police would tell us to go, we would go right away. But they didn't let us. They just set upon us - all of them. I heard the police say, 'Smack them! Get them!' They hit me with a club on my leg, and then they pushed me to the ground and smashed me with clubs twice more - once on my face, right near my eye. I saw others right near me bleeding from their heads, unconscious - it was just terrible... It was just by miracle that nothing worse happened to me."
Some of the injuries were so severe that the injured had to be helicoptered out of Amona for emergency treatment at area hospitals.
The most seriously wounded was a child who sustained such serious head injuries that he is now in a coma and cannot breathe on his own. He is attached to a respirator. This indicates pressure in the brain, and potential brain damage, should this child-protestor survive. This might be a good time to say a special prayer for the recovery of this child, Yechiam ben Rachel, as well as all of the wounded defenders of the Land and Jewish Communities of Israel.
Let us bear witness to this barbaric and horrific day in Jewish history. Let us remember that this battle is not just about nine houses in Amona. Let us remember that this is a far greater battle. Let us remember that this battle is between the holy and the profane. This a battle between those who are willing to sacrifice life and limb for the holy land of Israel and those who are willing to give our land to the Arab enemy. This a battle between the forces of Hashem and His holy Torah and between the forces of secularization and liberalism. Let us remember that our only hope, our only savior is Hashem Yisborach. The Almighty G-d of Israel. It is our duty to cleave to Hashem, to ask for His help and to walk in His ways. We ask that Holy One, Blessed Be He, in His mercy grant us the strength and courage to gird our loins and to prepare to defend our faith. And let us bear witness to the beginning of the battle for our very existence as Jews and for the land of Israel.