Daily Israel Report

Sharon and Mofaz Swoop Down on Two More Outposts

Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Mofaz signed an order this morning for the dismantling of two more outposts, including the expulsion of their residents, and are preparing to act against Tapuach West as well.
First Publish: 1/4/2004, 2:36 PM / Last Update: 1/4/2004, 11:26 AM

Two more blows have been struck in the unfolding confrontation between the Israeli government and the Jewish settlement enterprise in Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza). Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz signed an order this morning calling for the dismantling of two more outposts, including the expulsion of their residents. In addition, they are preparing to act against Tapuach West as well.

One of the two immediately-threatened locations is the Maon Farm, south of Hevron, where seven families live in a wooded area adjacent to the long-time community of Maon. In November 1999, then-Prime Minister Ehud Barak ordered the army to destroy the farm and expel its three families, but it has since been rebuilt. The original founder, Dov Dribben, was murdered there by Arabs in 1998.

The second outpost whose destruction was decided upon today by Sharon and Mofaz is Tal Binyamin, adjacent to Ofrah, named for Binyamin Kahane and his wife Talia. The two were murdered four years ago outside Ofrah as they were driving home to Tapuach, leaving six orphans. "Mishpitei Eretz," an institute in which contemporary legal issues are studied from a Halakhic [Jewish legal] standpoint, operates in Tal Binyamin, and a synagogue is operative there several times a week, although no one resides there.

"Our objections to this uprooting are rooted not only in our Torah values," Rabbi Michael Baris, head of Mishpitei Eretz, told Arutz-7 today, "but also in the democratic and sovereign nature of our State. The fact that we see this country as 'the beginning of the blossoming of our Redemption' is not manifest only in the argument over the recitation of the Hallel prayer on Independence Day, but also the laws and regulations - and these two go together. We have to ensure that the democratic nature of our country not be harmed, from either side... We will struggle against these orders on the judicial front, with the aim of enlarging the consensus on the issue."

In light of a Cabinet query by Justice Minister Lapid of Shinui today, the Prime Minister instructed Defense Minister Mofaz to take quick action against an unauthorized outpost in Tapuach as well.

Arutz-7 correspondent Haggai Huberman said that there are strong questions about all three of the outposts now slated for destruction. Tal Binyamin was originally an army outpost, and "as far as I know, has received all the relevant permits," he said, adding that the same is true of the road leading to the Tapuach outpost and most of the structures there. "Regarding Maon," Huberman added, "the story is an old one. It was once evacuated because it was said to be in the line of fire of a nearby army firing range - but when the Arabs were allowed to return to the area, the Jews said that there must be one law for all, and began to return. How, now, can the army remove the Jews without also removing the Arabs? The entire approach to choosing the list of outposts to be uprooted is very questionable."

The Yesha Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza announced that it would act against the destruction of the outposts with all the legal and political tools in its power. A petition by "Professors for a Strong Israel" against the actions will be heard in the Supreme Court tomorrow. Rabbi Avi Gisser of Ofrah said this morning that all he asks of the government is to "act within the law, and not use all sorts of political procedures to bypass the legitimate civil rights of those whom the government wishes to expel from their homes."

In the meantime, Yesha leaders are hoping to draw thousands of supporters to resist the planned uprooting of Ginot Aryeh, a neighborhood of Ofrah that was marked for destruction last week. Three families and close to 20 singles reside there. Legal maneuverings might delay the attempt to uproot it until next week. A meeting of Yesha leaders and Ofrah residents is scheduled for this evening in Ginot Aryeh.