Gush Etzion Activists Prevent Arabs From Uprooting Vineyard
The following is the latest in a case study of the phenomenon of Arab and leftist groups taking advantage of the Sasson Report (which prompted the government to freeze the authorization of hilltop outposts) to uproot Jewish agriculture and create their own facts on the ground. Though Arutz-7 has published close coverage on Sde Boaz, similar events take place on almost a weekly basis in Samaria and in the southern Hevron Hills as well.
Arabs attempting to uproot vineyards at the Gush Etzion community of Sde Boaz were chased away early Friday morning by scores of Jews from the area. Police initially refused to arrest the uprooters.
A little after 7 AM, residents of Sde Boaz noticed a group of Palestinian Authority (PA) Arabs with a donkey uprooting freshly planted grape vines. The vines had been uprooted by the same group of Arabs just two weeks ago. IDF soldiers arrived at the scene and prevented the Arabs from continuing the destruction.
Two police officers arrived after almost an hour’s wait. In the meantime, word spread throughout Gush Etzion via SMS text messages sent out by the various Action Committees that Arabs had come to the area to destroy Jewish agriculture.
When the police arrived, they refused to arrest the two Arab men that had been seen uprooting the vines. One policeman, “officer Alush” was filmed telling one of the founding residents of Sde Boaz that until he is informed by the Civil Administration who the land belongs to, he will not arrest the Arabs.
“You mean to tell me that if, theoretically it was his land, he would have the right to take vigilante action and destroy what was planted on it?” the resident asked.
“He could uproot everything on it,” was the officer’s response.
Residents plan on passing the video to newly-appointed Police Chief Dudi Cohen. “It is inconceivable that a police officer in the State of Israel still does not understand what his job is,” said Sde Boaz’s security chief Amit Barak. “Acting as judge and jury, before even examining the facts, the Gush Etzion police have decided to allow a criminal to escape. The status of the land will be determined by a judge, but there is clearly a double standard. Every time some leftist provocateur from Norway sticks a sapling in our front yard, they threaten us that if we touch it we will be prosecuted.”
A representative from the Civil Administration arrived at the scene and declared the land to be “disputed.” At that point, residents demanded the police carry out a search of the Arabs to see who had taken a large Israeli flag that had been hanging in the area. “According to the police reasoning, since the flag was ours, without a doubt, they should stand aside and allow us to get it back,” a spokesman explained to the large crowd that had gathered at the site, mostly from the nearby town of Neve Daniel, which had announced that an incident was taking place on its public address system.
The police told residents they should go to the police station and file a complaint about the flag.
Activists proceeded to surround the Arabs’ donkey, which was tied to a tree, saying that until the flag was returned, the donkey was going nowhere.
At that point, one of the Arab men threatened a Jewish activist with a pickaxe and the situation quickly escalated out of the control of the two policemen and small group of soldiers.
Two of the Arabs beat at least two Jews with wooden poles and an Arab woman threw rocks at a resident. Jewish residents and activists returned punches and pursued the Arabs toward the valley below the community.
One Jewish resident was badly bruised after being struck with a pole and was treated in a nearby medical clinic in Efrat.
Police apprehended two of the Arabs, but instead of arresting them, led them down toward the valley and the path back to their village.
The activists followed and tried to stop the police from freeing the perpetrators. At that point, the officers called for Yassam riot police to be sent in to protect that Arabs from the angry Jews.
The two Arab males seen uprooting the vineyards were then detained for questioning, though not officially arrested.
“This will continue to escalate as long as the police allow politics to taint their enforcement of the law,” Barak said. “Their policy of excusing crimes against us because politicians have arbitrarily classified our community as unauthorized emboldens the Arabs to commit further crimes against us.”
The Arab Plan: Make Gush Etzion into Gush Katif
Sde Boaz overlooks the main Jerusalem-Hevron road, as well as the Gush Etzion-Beit Shemesh road. “The reason they are targeting us is because we are the key to territorial contiguity between Gush Etzion and Jerusalem,” Barak says. “While the municipality spends money hiring PA firms to keep Gush Etzion part of the supposed ‘consensus,’ the Arabs are watching the wall being built and, on advice from left-wing groups, are frantically engaging in political agriculture, with the knowledge that Israel’s Supreme Court will rule in their favor when determining the border.
“What will happen here, if the police continue to stand down, is that Gush Etzion will become identical to the way Gush Katif was – a bloc of Jewish communities, connected to Jerusalem only by a single narrow road with walls on both sides, surrounded by sovereign PA territory.
“Thankfully, the residents of Gush Etzion have woken up. They really came through today, showing up quickly and making sure the police at least pretended to do their job.”