'Ya'alon is Obsessed with Destroying Judea and Samaria'
Housing Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) drafted a strongly-worded letter to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Wednesday, whereby he demanded that Israel convene a meeting of the Political-Defense Cabinet immediately over the destruction of several homes in the Judean community of Ma'ale Rehavam.
"Unfortunately, since the freeze on negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) after they broke the Oslo Accords and signed a unity pact with Hamas, we have seen a strange unity of the [Israeli and PA] sides, whereby the State has a policy of systematically destroying homes in Judea and Samaria communities under development," Ariel fired.
Earlier Wednesday, large squads of IDF and security forces began demolishing buildings in Ma'ale Rehavam, which is part of the Gush Etzion bloc between Jerusalem and Hevron, equipped with riot-dispersal gear in anticipation of clashes with residents. The security forces also physically dragged several residents from the scene, holding their arms and legs aloft.
Arutz Sheva's correspondent on the ground managed to film the moments of destruction, as residents pleaded with soldiers to wait for Supreme Court orders to be clarified. One resident stated "this is our country, it's Jewish land."
The Supreme Court, in a dramatic turn of events, suddenly ordered the demolition to be stopped halfway through the process - then ordered its resumption less than an hour later.
A Defense Ministry spokesperson told AFP that 11 buildings were demolished, and that five of them had been inhabited.
Later Wednesday, the head of the Judea, Samaria, and Binyamin Residential Committee issued sharp criticism at Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon over the demolitions.
"The number of home demolitions in Judea-Samaria in recent months raises suspicions that the Defense Minister is obsessed with destroying our communities," he noted. "Ya'alon, who intends to run for the leader of the nationalist camp in the Knesset, performs, in practice, the policies of the extreme Left."
"It seems that Ya'alon decided to return to his birthplace in the kibbutz movement," he continued, a reference to the left-leaning ideology of much of the kibbutz movement, and continued by invoking Israel's former Labor party Defense Minister Ehud Barak. "This cannot be that a Defense Minister from Likud would carry out atrocities even Ehud Barak did not commit."
Meanwhile, the Ministry is currently preparing to destroy homes in two other communities - Ramat Gilad and Givat Assaf in Samaria (Shomron), north of Jerusalem - in the event that an agreement cannot be worked out with their residents. The High Court of Justice is demanding that the buildings be demolished by next Sunday.
Although "Area C" of Judea and Samaria, where all Jewish communities in the area are located, are under direct Israeli control they have not been formally annexed by Israel since their liberation in 1967, and are thus technically under military rule - meaning that the Defense Ministry, not other relevant civilian ministries, has the final say on issues such as housing as well as security.