The sometimes-violent evacuation and/or dismantling of the Mitzpeh Yitzhar outpost began this morning, took a break for two hours while a Supreme Court decision was awaited, and resumed in full fury in the early afternoon.
One of the leaders of the settlement enterprise in the area, Yehuda Libman, said that the army had destroyed two or three tents and caravans, and that the resisters tried to put one back up. It was later reported in the name of one of the commanders at the site that the mission was to destroy the buildings, and not necessarily to evacuate the protestors.
About 1,000 people spent the night there, in anticipation of the arrival of the army forces, but only about 200 remained this morning when the evacuating forces suddenly arrived. Within a few hours, despite the best efforts of the army, another several hundred had arrived. Long-time Yesha activist and Mayor of Kedumim Daniella Weiss was one of those who reached the area by foot. "Unfortunately," she told Arutz-7's Ruti Avraham today, "the special forces are using tremendous force, even cruelty, not only against the males, but also against the girls and women." Regulations stipulate that people must be evacuated only by soldiers or police of their own gender.
Mayor Weiss and Binyamin Regional Council head Pinchas Wallerstein were among those who were hit by the special evacuating forces and required medical attention. Magen David Adom ambulances evacuated some wounded in light condition - although the MDA issued a statement that soldiers prevented at least one ambulance from reaching the wounded. Cameras were broken, and some arrests were made. Arutz-7's Kobi Sela, who was held up at the Tapuach junction, said that the army took armed personnel carriers from their defensive missions in the Shechem area and used them in Mitzpeh Yitzhar.
Yehuda Libman said that he is shocked at the fact that in the middle of a terrible budget crisis, when the army says it has no money, and in the middle of a war against terrorism in which forces are spread so thinly, "the army is so eager to take its top equipment and very large forces and use them for an unnecessary clash - and all this while a Supreme Court restraining order is still in effect. What's the rush?"
Two people were hurt when an army jeep ran over them during the course of the evacuation.
Four soldiers reportedly asked their commanders to be excused from the mission, as they felt that they could not ethically justify their taking part in uprooting Jews from the Land of Israel. Their commanders accepted their request.
In addition to the clash at the outpost, the situation on the roads to and around Yitzhar was no less newsworthy. The army closed the roads, forbidding cars from traveling in the vicinity of Yitzhar. However, many of the passengers simply left the cars and began to walk towards Yitzhar. The problem is that the route is littered with Arab villages, some of them hostile - and in fact at least one group was attacked by Arab rock-throwers, injuring at least one person. The commanders were forced to begin spreading their forces over the area. At the same time, many "innocent" residents of the area began to pile up at the checkpoints, some of them not at all connected with the efforts to resist the evacuation - yet they were prevented from reaching their homes in the nearby communities Kedumim, Itamar, Elon Moreh and others for over two hours. The soldiers therefore began to allow some cars through the roadblocks, but only after ascertaining and exacting promises that the passengers were not headed for Yitzhar.
MK Uri Ariel (National Union) spoke to Arutz-7 from the site about three hours after the operation started: "I'm now in Mitzpeh Yitzhar, overlooking the [hostile Arab] village of Hawara, and as of now there's a little break - possibly waiting for the Supreme Court decision. There was an attempt to take down one structure - a tent synagogue - but there was passive resistance, and the police gave up." Asked if there was violence, MK Ariel seemed reticent to criticize the forces, saying that the problem is "not with the soldiers - they're our own brothers and sons - but with the diplomatic echelons." He said that Powell's arrival tomorrow is probably the motivation for Sharon's wanting to "provide the merchandise."
A restraining order was issued last night against the destruction of one of the permanent structures at Mitzpeh Yitzhar. However, the Supreme Court rejected the petition by the home's owner, thus paving the way for the destruction of the building.
It was reported shortly afterwards that the violence had increased, and that some 30 people, both policemen and resisters, were injured. MK Uri Ariel (National Union), who was at the site, said that such reports "sound very dramatic, but they are very exaggerated. This number includes victims of dehydration, slipping on a rock, and the like; their condition would not even be considered 'light' by the army."
Women-in-Green issued a sharp statement against the attempt to uproot Jews from the Land of Israel. "The Aqaba criminals are worse than the Oslo criminals," the statement read, "because they are releasing murderers and evicting Jews from their homes in the Land of Israel." The organization called upon the soldiers not to take part "in the crime of uprooting Jews from the Land of Israel." It further called upon the NRP and National Union parties to leave the government today.
At one point, groups of children sat on two bulldozers and began praying that the outpost be saved.
BET - def and sec, replace
Suicide Terrorist Murders Father Of Six
Grocery store owner Avner Mordechai, 63, was murdered this morning in Sdei Trumot by a human bomb. The Palestinian terrorist walked into the store shortly before 6 AM this morning and blew himself up, turning the store into a burning pile of rubble and killing the only person inside. Avner left behind a wife, a son, and five daughters. His funeral will be held this afternoon in Sdei Trumot, a religious moshav (agricultural community) south of Beit She'an - well inside pre-1967 Israel. It appears that the bomb was meant to go off a bit later, near a busload of soldiers, but for some reason it detonated early. The store, too, would have been filled with people a few minutes later, after the end of morning prayers.
Security forces later surmised that Mordechai noticed the suspicious Arab, and called him over or otherwise attracted his attention. According to this theory, the terrorist then gave up his plans to kill a large group of Jews, and instead blew himself up right then and there. A surveillance camera in the store may be able to provide more information.
The security forces are constantly receiving warnings of intended terrorist attacks. They attribute no importance to the Hamas announcement that from now on it will concentrate on "small-scale attacks."
Islamic Jihad, according to an announcement received by some of the media, apparently perpetrated the murderous attack.
Gov and pol -
P.A. Doing Nothing To Fulfill Road Map
Nationalist camp politicians, commentators, and others expressed consternation at the fact that Prime Minister Sharon continues doggedly along with his plans to evacuate outposts - while the PA has not even begun to fulfill its Road Map obligations by fighting terrorism. Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz lashed out at the Palestinian Authority this morning, saying that it is not "showing determination in the fight against Hamas." He spoke to reporters before meeting with U.S. envoy John Wolfe. American Secretary of State Colin Powell is scheduled to arrive in Israel tomorrow, and MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) and others say that Sharon is over-eager to show him that he has begun dismantling manned outposts.
Some 50 right-wing MKs, including many in the Likud, have signed a petition demanding that Prime Minister Sharon stop the dismantling of outposts - at least while the Palestinian terrorism and incitement continue. The petition was initiated by MK Uri Ariel (National Union).
National Union Party ministers Avigdor Lieberman and Benny Elon will request on Sunday that the Cabinet discuss whether or not to continue the implementation of the Road Map in light of the continued terrorism.
Italy: Imam Fired For Incitement
The Italian government, headed by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, removed the Imam of the Grand Mosque of Rome from his post last week after he exhorted his listeners to "annihilate the enemies of Islam and guarantee everywhere in the world the victory of the Nation of Islam." The Imam, Abdel-Samie Mahmoud Ibrahim Moussa, said in his sermon this past June 6, "[We pray for] Allah's help in the destruction of the homes and destruction of the enemies of Islam, for their annihilation, and the victory everywhere for the nation of Islam."
Moussa's words drew sharp responses from various directions. Father Justo Lacunza Balda, rector of the Pontifical Institute for Arab and Islamic Studies in Rome, said, "There can be no place for people who encourage hatred and incite to kill. This is insanity… It must be clearly stated that the Italian Constitution does not allow public incitement to violence and hatred of imaginary enemies…"
Imam Moussa also recently said, as reported by WorldNetDaily.com, that suicide attacks in Israel can be justified according to Islam, while attacks in Saudi Arabia, Morocco or Italy cannot. "This is because all of the Jewish society illegally occupies an Islamic land," he explained. The recent attacks in Saudi Arabia and Morocco are not legitimate, however, because "Islam condemns attacks against foreigners who are hosted by the Muslim people."
Prime Minister Berlusconi took a sharp pro-Israel stand during his recent visit to Israel by refusing to meet Yasser Arafat. This was widely perceived as a slap in the face at the rest of the European Union, which has not adopted the American-Israeli boycott of Arafat.
ALEPH - inside israel
In Exchange For Mitzpeh Yitzhar: New Sites In Hevron, Kiryat Arba
Tel Romeida, a neighborhood in Hevron with much Jewish-owned land, is the site of a new Jewish presence today. Residents constructed a tent outpost there this morning, adjacent to lots in which Arabs built illegal structures. One of the new residents told an Arutz-7 correspondent that they took advantage of the fact that the policemen were taken to Yitzhar and that there was no one to stop them.
Jews have lived in caravans in Tel Romeida (Admot Yeshai) since 1984; Rabbi Shlomo Raanan, grandson of the famed Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook, was murdered in his home five years ago when a terrorist climbed in through the window. The families began building their permanent homes last September, but this was stopped by court order five months later - at the behest of archaeologists and Peace Now leader Mossi Raz. They claimed that the construction was causing damage to antiquities at the site, even though Dr. Yitzhak Magen, responsible for archeological excavations in Yesha, had previously approved the plans.
Two other groups started to rebuild other evacuated outposts near Kiryat Arba, one on Antenna Hill, and the other on Hilltop 26. The latter was the home of the Ozeri family, whose father/husband Netanel was murdered by terrorists last year; even then, the surviving widow and five orphans continued to live on the isolated hilltop, until the army uprooted them in the middle of the night three months ago.
Eco and soc:
The P.A. Media
David Bedein, of the Israel Resource News Agency (www.israelbehindthenews.com), reports that Voice of Palestine - the Palestinian Authority's official radio - covered the terrorist murder of 7-year-old Noam Leibowitz on Tuesday night by describing it as "the death by shooting of a female Israeli settler." It used this phrase on both the 7:30 and 8:00 Wednesday morning reports, with no Palestinian Authority condemnation of the murder - nor even vague disapproval of the timing of the attack. Arutz-7's Yosef Zalmanson noted that it should be noted that the victim's family did not live in Yesha, nor were they traveling in Yesha at the time of the attack - meaning that the PA considers all Israelis to be "settlers."
Bedein wrote that his office faxed five Israeli media outlets, including Voice of Israel, Channels One and Two, and Army Radio, asking why they did not report how the PA broadcasts justified the murder of the little girl. No response was received from any of the news departments.
Def and sec
Legal Wheels Turn Against Islamic Movement Leaders
The Tel Aviv Magistrates Court extended the custody of five Israeli-Arab Islamic Movement leaders this afternoon. They are to be indicted on charges of contact with a foreign agent, laundering money, and giving financial aid to Hamas elements. Among the arrestees are Sheikh Raad Salah and Um el-Fahm Mayor Suleimon Ajabariya. Israeli-Arabs in attendance at the court caused a disturbance during the session. The judge wrote in her ruling that there is room to suspect that the subjects harmed state security, and that the arrests are in no way merely "political."
Def and sec
Rocket Report, And More
The condition of three-year-old Shira Liebowitz, who was seriously wounded in the terror attack that killed her 7-year-old sister Noam two nights ago, has improved significantly. The bullet that went through her sister's body hit her as well, but stopped just short of her spine. Doctors at Schneider Children's Hospital in Petach Tikvah removed the bullet in a delicate operation.
Rocket report: Two Kassams were fired at Sderot this afternoon, and a mortar shell fell near an IDF checkpoint in Gush Katif. No one was hurt.
No fewer than six pipebombs were discovered overnight in El-Hader, just north of Gush Etzion. The Israeli forced safely neutralized them... Terrorists opened fire at a group of workers near Netzarim, north of Gush Katif; no one was hurt, and IDF soldiers returned fire... Not for the first time in the last few weeks, an IDF force found and confiscated a stash of chemical fertilizers used for the preparation of explosives. The soldiers found 15 sacks of the stuff in Tubas, in the northern Jordan Valley.
Hizbullah, for the 8th time in just over two weeks, fired across Israel's northern border yesterday - causing damage to a parked car.
More information from IDF Intelligence Wing chief Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash: He told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee this week that the Gaza branch of Hamas needs approval from its political bureau in Damascus for a cease-fire. He called for more international pressure on Syria to close terrorist organization offices there, as well as more pressure on Saudi Arabia and Iran to stop the transfer of funds to Hamas. Commenting on the student demonstrations in Iran, Farkash said that they are not yet a threat to the national government, as the general Iranian public has not gotten involved.
The Al-Aqsa Foundation in Australia is now illegal. Foreign Minister Alexander Downer listed the "charity" organization, with connections to Hamas, as an organization with suspected terrorist links.