Demolition of Tapuach Synagogue Begins With Violence

"A national disgrace." So said MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) this afternoon regarding the destruction of a synagogue in the Shomron town of Ariel today. "I demand that the government not employ a double standard," he said.

, | updated: 11:21

Only a few hours after the Supreme Court rejected a petition this morning against the demolition of a synagogue in western Tapuach, hundreds of police and soldiers arrived on the scene early this afternoon and began the destruction in a violent manner - and were met with some violence in response.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said this afternoon that the destruction of a synagogue in the Shomron town of Ariel is a "national disgrace." He said he demands that the government "not employ a double standard. If it has decided to fight against illegal Jewish construction, then let it first carry out the thousands of demolition orders that have been issued against illegally-built Arab structures."

The residents of the central-Shomron community of Tapuach claimed in court not that the synagogue is authorized, but rather that it is a basic need of the community, and that the decision to raze it is solely political. The judges rejected the suit based on what the Tapuach lawyer said was only a "technicality," and added that the demolition of the synagogue must be carried out with great caution.

Hundreds of pro-Land of Israel supporters began making their way to the site as soon as word of the ruling was learned. The security forces quickly placed barriers at the Tapuach Junction to prevent their arrival, but some of the supporters were able to arrive in any event.

David HaIvri of Tapuach told Arutz-7 today that the town is in the process of registering the building for a permit: "We never would have dreamt that a Jewish town in Israel [with some ten families, in addition to the some 70 families who live in Tapuach proper] would not be permitted to build a synagogue," he said. "But we know Ariel Sharon from what he did in Yamit, and our job is to try to stop this from happening once again." Sharon, as Defense Minister in 1982, oversaw the evacuation and destruction of the city of Yamit and neighboring communities in northwestern Sinai following the signing of the peace treaty with Egypt. Sharon has since expressed regret for these actions.

The Yesha Council said it objects to the evacuation of any Jewishly-held point in the Land of Israel, and that with a little good will, the government could have authorized the synagogue, just as the Barak government did in the past in similar situations. At the same time, the Yesha Council said it would not take part in the efforts to prevent the demolition "in cases where we do not know in advance the nature of the resistance." The Council thus leveled some veiled criticism of the Kach supporters in Tapuach, implying that they might respond violently to the evacuation.

A Voice of Israel reporter noted today that there is a precedent in previous evacuations for the destruction of a synagogue. It occurred in the Maon Farm in November 1999. Eyewitnesses said that it was carried out carefully, under the watchful eye of an IDF rabbi: first the Torah scrolls were gingerly taken out, and then the building was gradually razed.

Today in Tapuach, however, as reported by eyewitness Gershon Hershkovitz, the story was quite different. With loud screams and other noise in the background, Hershkovitz said, "Hundreds of police/soldiers arrived here with great violence, most of them armed, and some of them even fired in the air. No one was hurt by the shots, thank G-d, but this is a bad precedent - and some people have been knocked unconscious by their violence... They took out the Torah scrolls and other holy books fairly roughly - but some 30 people are barricaded on the roof, so they can't take down the building... We call on people from all over to come and help us."

The Torah scroll, in the memory of terror victims Binyamin and Talia Kahane, was introduced into the synagogue in a festive ceremony only two weeks ago. Many hundreds of people from all over the country participated in the joyous occasion. Tapuach residents deny that the building is a center for the promulgation of the teachings of Rabbi Meir Kahane, Binyamin's father. In fact, Talia's father, David Hertzlich, said that he uses the building "just to teach little children the verses of the Bible."

By late this afternoon, some 30 residents had been arrested, the furniture had been taken out of the synagogue, and one wall was knocked down. Another eyewitness said that the books were taken out in an orderly fashion, "but our resistance wasn't just for show. We were trying to stop them. We also want to show them that it won't be so easy for them to take down other places in the Land of Israel."




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