Moshe BurtMoshe Burt is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of the Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.
After returning from Jerusalem where the transfer took place, I went right to Night Seder (Torah study session) at shul (synagogue). Upon returning to my apartment, I found a message on my email log that the army was about to take down the shul at Tapuach-West.
Two weeks earlier, a few thousand people attended a Hochnossos Sefer Torah (Torah dedication) party at Tapuach-West. The shul was to become a Beit Midrash and International Center for learning the teachings of Rabbi Meir Kahane and Rabbi Binyamin Kahane (Rabbi Meir Kahane, Rabbi Binyamin Kahane and his wife Talia were murdered by Arab terrorists). At that time, the Minister of Justice Tommy Lapid was incensed by media reports about government money allegedly spent to build an access road to the shul location. Therefore, he made it a coalition issue that the shul be demolished. And so, Tapuach-West was moved to priority one for the Ariel Sharon bulldozer.
Upon reading the report on my email log, I surfed around to the major Israeli news sites to find that as the army attempted to move, legal counsel for Tapuach-West was in court petitioning for a decision barring the military from taking the location down. This court action served to delay any military action.
On Monday morning, I saw news that the Supreme Court rendered their decision rejecting the petition. Then I opened my email log and found that there had been a post to a number of lists calling on people to travel to Tapuach. Supporters began making their way to the site as soon as word of the ruling was learned. It was thought that the earliest the government and military would move would be at sunset.
However, the military moved in almost immediately upon receipt of the High Court ruling. The army quickly placed barriers at the Tapuach Junction to prevent the arrival of shul supporters. However, some of the supporters were able to arrive in any event. And so, the Tapuach group was caught flat-footed. By about 2:15pm, the destruction of the shul had begun.
Despite the court's mandate that the demolition of the synagogue must be carried out with great caution, witnesses state that hundreds of police and military arrived at Tapuach-West "with great violence, most of them armed, and some of them even fired in the air... Some people have been knocked unconscious by their violence."
The sefer Torah, placed there two weeks earlier, apparently was violently confiscated by the army. Ten or so years ago, I recall pictures of Rabbi Shlomo Riskin being forcibly removed from Degan Hill while clutching a sefer Torah in his arms. Ten years later, the Israeli government and army, at the vicious instigation of Minister of Justice Lapid, seems to now deny proper dignity to our holiest religious object, the spiritual core of our existence ? a sefer Torah. How far the Israeli government and we collectively have fallen in the Oslo era.
"Senior Yesha Council officials Bentzi Lieberman released a message to the media calling on the IDF to exercise restraint and comply with the law while carrying out orders to destroy Yesha outposts.
"The veteran Yesha activist reiterated that the Yesha Council remains opposed to the uprooting of any Jewish community (outpost) in the Land of Israel, adding the Tapuah West community was authorized by former Prime Ministers Ehud Barak and Binyamin Netanyahu. Lieberman stated Prime Minister Ariel Sharon could have permitted the process to obtain permits for the synagogue, but instead ordered the building destroyed." (Arutz-7; "Demolition of Tapuach Synagogue Begins With Violence"14:17 Jan 20, '04 / 26 Tevet 5764)
There are lessons to be drawn from Monday's military actions at Tapuach-West regarding future plans to deal with the government's attempts to dismantle populated outposts.
Firstly, "settlement-doubling" strategies should be employed in timed approximation to any possible court decision to be rendered on any possible outpost dismantlement. Such strategies would serve to leave the government with a dilemma as to where to act first and could also serve to reduce the number of forces arriving to dismantle an outpost.
Secondly, calls should go out to supporters of the outposts to make their way to the specific location being ruled upon in the High Court either the night before or in the hours before a court ruling. This way, large numbers of people are at the scene before the military closes off access to the location upon their receipt of any ruling allowing dismantlement.
These two steps, if done properly and in an organized, workmanlike fashion, I believe, will confound and diminish the numbers of police/military forces in a confrontation, so that future confrontations will be on terms and in circumstances more favorable to the survival of these outposts.