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Tear Gas, Stun Grenades, Arrests as Peace House Tension Builds

Six Jews injured by police brutality in Hevron, including children who inhaled tear gas. Nadia Matar: 'we are winning, the government senses it.'
By Avraham Zuroff
First Publish: 12/3/2008, 5:56 PM

Israel News Photo: Refael Ovadia / Boltshauser Images

Three Land of Israel activists were hurt Wednesday evening as police lobbed stun grenades and tear gas canisters at Jews who tried to cross roadblocks and make their way to Hevron's Peace House.

According to sources in Hevron, two of the injured are children who inhaled tear gas. In addition to the three people injured in the evening, three other people were reported hurt when police used tear gas and stun grenades earlier in the day.

Daniela Weiss, a leader of the Peace House struggle, angrily shook off accusations Wednesday evening that she was somehow to blame for the injury of a Jewish youth Tuesday in Hevron.

"I feel the pain of the injury," she said. "I point a finger of blame towards the government of Israel, which in an act of shocking anti-Semitism wants to evict Jews from a house in the Land of Israel that was purchased in full."

The organizers of the struggle for Peace House, including Rabbis Shmuel Eliyahu and Dov Lior, called upon the people of Israel Wednesday evening to stream to the place immediately. Another organizer, Women in Green activist Nadia Matar, said Wednesday evening that the next 24 hours will be the critical ones in the struggle.

Matar said: "We are winning and we are holding on with a government that apparently does not know what to do, praise G-d. They understand," she added, "that there are no deals here, no 'kombinot', ("tricks" -ed.) no Gush Katif. I believe that they feel the public support for Peace House."

As the clashes outside of Peace House continued, a new battleground emerged as nationalists re-entered the Shapira House, a residence that was sealed in 2006 following a court order. Dozens of the activists were removed by security personnel on Wednesday afternoon and taken in for questioning.

On Wednesday, residents of the Samarian Jewish community of Beit El showed their solidarity with the Peace House residents with prayers for the health of Elyashav Asban, who was critically injured by an Arab crowd that hurled a cinder block at him in Hevron the previous day. Shmuel Asban, the boy’s father told Israel National News that Elyasaf’s condition is very grave.

“The injury won’t weaken us,” the father emphasizes, “The Jewish People have already undergone 2,000 years of exile and all should continue to be encouraged and to arise for the totality of the Land of Israel.”

Yet official statements from the government denounce the confrontations of recent days that have erupted in the wake of the Defense Ministry decision to order the eviction of the residents of the Peace House.

“There are phenomena that one cannot come to terms with, and the government that I am heading is unable to accept them,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday, referring to the determination of Peace House residents to reject eviction orders.

“The debate on the Land of Israel is legitimate, and the resolve to keep a Jewish presence in the holiest and most significant of our cities is understood. However, this resolve must not overpower the court’s decision,” the prime minister added at a State-sponsored commemoration of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion.

President Shimon Peres reiterated Olmert’s remarks, stating, “Whoever throws a rock at a soldier is as if he is throwing a rock at the entire country.”  The president continued, “Especially in these days, we must restate clearly and loudly the words of Ben Gurion that there is one State and one law and the existence of the State demands the respect of its laws. Anyone who disobeys them — the State must oppose him without hesitation.”

Peres stated that the unfolding of Wednesday’s events in Hevron has given Israel bad press in the world.

“Unfortunately, adults shamelessly made sure to send out youths and even children to clash with police and soldiers,” Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter stated in response to the riots in Hevron, adding, “The fact that children are allowed to be used as a human shield from police and soldiers should outrage us all.”

Judea and Samaria Council head Danny Dayan publicly decried the violence in Hevron, and blamed Daniela Weiss, the former chair of the Kedumim Council. Dayan stated that the justified battle for the Peace House “is being managed by figures who came from the outside to Hevron in a non-ethical and foolish manner.” Dayan lashed out at Weiss and her associates, “who caused damage, that is in my opinion, irreversible, to the future of Peace House.”

Daniela Weiss stated, in response to the accusations leveled against her, "I feel the pain of the injury. I point a finger of blame towards the government of Israel, which in an act of shocking anti-Semitism wants to evict Jews from a house in the Land of Israel that was purchased in full."

Various rabbinic figures arrived at the Peace House, urging the youth to avoid the use of violence and the activists' 'youth division' reportedly agreed to follow this advice. In addition, talks are being conducted by the Yesha Council with the Ministry of Defense to prevent the eviction of the Peace House residents.