In an interview with journalist Yanai Cohen, Lieutenant-Colonel Rassan, commander of the Duchifat battalion in the Binyamin region, said that the midnight arrival of thousands of Land of Israel loyalists to the community of Givat Assaf last month clearly prevented the army from destroying homes there.
On August 26th, the IDF’s intentions to destroy Givat Assaf that evening became known. The community is located at the intersection leading to Beit El from highway 60 – the main artery connecting the Jewish communities of the Shomron (Samaria) region to Jerusalem. As reports of the impending destruction spread, thousands of residents and supporters from Jerusalem, Beit El, Ofra, and other places as far away as Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu (in the northern Jordan Valley) descended upon Givat Assaf. Although it was past midnight, hundreds of cars pulled up – parking along the highway on both shoulders of route 60.
The residents attributed the IDF’s decision not to destroy the mobile homes to the large number of supporters that arrived at the place. In an interview with the weekly paper ‘Kol Ha’Ir’ Lt.-Col. Rassan confirmed that attribution: “At Givat Assaf outpost, which we were supposed to dismantle, the organization of the settler groups and their supporters was unbelievable. They blocked the paths with rocks, and in five minutes 5,000 people had arrived from all across Israel – Hevron, Golan Heights, Samaria and Ofra – flooding the roads. In Beit El there were announcements over loudspeakers – and eventually we just called of the evacuation.”
“You tell me,” Lt.-Col. Rassan asked the interviewer, “how is it possible to remove 5,000 people from a hilltop.”