Showdown in Kfar Darom

Over 200 youths and residents are out in force at the entrance to the Gush Katif community of Kfar Darom this afternoon, preventing the army from removing a mobile antenna base used by the Shabak.

Hillel Fendel , | updated: 15:01

Avraham Yitzchak Schwartz, who has lived in Kfar Darom for a year and heads the local anti-disengagement efforts, told Arutz-7 that neither the residents nor the army want a violent clash. "Right now," he said, "there is a busload of Border Guard forces outside the gates, and we don't want to fight them. But it's important that we wage a struggle against expulsion activities."

The incident began at 11 AM, when an army truck arrived and began dismantling the antenna - stationed just inside the community's gate - and loading its caravan base onto a truck. Dozens of youths and residents quickly assembled around and blocked it from moving. The antenna was in the service of the General Security Service.

After three and a half hours of standoff, Arutz-7 asked Schwartz, "If the Border Guardsmen have already arrived, what are they waiting for? Why don't they just come in, disperse the crowds and allow the truck to get going?"

"Because they also don't want a clash," Schwartz answered. "Sharon doesn't need television footage of violence against citizens now... Right now, I'm about to meet with the Deputy Brigade Commander and several other officers, and we'll see how to proceed from here." The meeting did not produce concrete results.

Arutz-7's Yishai Fleisher reported from the scene that the army forces are outnumbered by the residents, who are taking the opportunity to remind the soldiers of their basic obligations. "Soldier, policeman, refuse orders!" is one of the chants, but was replaced by several others in turn: "Am Yisrael Chai! (The People of Israel Lives)," "We Love the IDF," and "Plan What You Will, G-d is With Us."

The residents also wished to protest the deteriorating security situation. They maintain that the equipment that the army wishes to remove is necessary for the day-to-day safety of both the soldiers and the residents.

As a result of the standoff, the army closed off the Kisufim entrance to Gush Katif, fearing that more anti-disengagement forces would try to reach Kfar Darom. Many cars are stuck at Kisufim, including the parents, grandparents and other friends and relatives of an eight-day-old baby whose ritual circumcision is scheduled for this afternoon in Gush Katif.

Others among the assembled protestors began giving speeches, including Mrs. Chana Bart, who recently gave birth to a baby boy despite being paralyzed from the waist down following a terror attack. She was followed by Ro'i Har-Melekh, who said, "Do you see what you are doing? Do you really wish to remove this brave woman and her family from their home, after what they have gone through? Your true obligation at this point is to refuse orders, and not to destroy the homes of innocent Jews in the Land of Israel."

The speaker's brother, Shalom, was murdered in a terror attack in August 2003. Shalom's wife and son continue to live in Chomesh, one of the four Shomron communities also slated for destruction under the disengagement plan.

Around 5:15 PM, the truckdriver - hired by the army to remove the equipment - apparently decided to give up, and tried to back up and unload the equipment. The crowd broke out into cheers for the driver, named Herzl. Herzl said he doesn't need this job: "It's not worth one cent for me if even one Jew gets hurt here."

Several hours earlier, a few of the youths tried to let the air out of the truck's tires; the driver yelled out, "I did nothing bad to you, so don't involve me!" The youths then backed off.

Arutz-7's homepage will provide continuous updates on the situation in Kfar Darom in its Latest News section.