Daily Israel Report

Sa-Nur and Chomesh are Destroyed

Over 8,000 police/army forces took part in the forced eviction of residents and supporters from Sa-Nur & Chomesh in the Shomron. The communities are destroyed and the residents' future is uncertain.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 8/23/2005, 6:13 PM / Last Update: 8/23/2005, 11:00 AM

In Chomesh, the more easily accessible of the two Shomron communities that were destroyed today, some 2,000 youths gathered over the past few days, forming several different groups.

The largest group, some 60 youths, entered the local synagogue and closed off the doors and windows. Soldiers had to use heavy metal-cutting tools to force their way in, only to find the youths sitting on the floor, arms and legs linked, reciting Psalms and other prayers.

Several kilometers to the north, in Sa-Nur, many fewer youths gathered, but many of them fortified themselves atop the old British police building - a fortress-like structure whose conquest presented the largest challenge for the expulsion forces.


Despite the warnings by media commentators and others, fed by leaks from the police, it gradually becamse clear that violence will be avoided. Oil and chemical substances were removed from several roofs last night, to ensure that the struggle is waged with acceptable guidelines.

It was widely agreed that the leaks of supposed violence and caches of weapons were a form of police-initiated psychological warfare against the protestors.

After bursting into the communities around 7:00 this morning, the expulsion forces began breaking into homes, forcibly removing the families and others.

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union), standing atop the British structure in Sa-Nur, called out by megaphone to the soldiers below, "Refuse orders!" Eldad and his family moved to Sa-Nur several months ago.

Eldad said that there has been a campaign to "demonize the settlers, saying that we are amassing weapons, and preparing for war, etc." The Knesset Member said that this was initiated by government sources and "serves Sharon's interests; I'm amazed at the media for following this lead, repeating this mantra over and over without asking whether it's true. Every day I am interviewed and am asked, 'Can you quantify the tremendous amounts of weapons being stored up?'"

Elsewhere in Sa-Nur - in the synagogue/Medrasha building - an agreement was reached between the sides. The head of the Medrasha was taken out first, followed by the some 50 others who were inside. Last to leave was Sha'ul Halfa, a veteran settlement leader who is considered one of the builders of the city of Yamit, who removed the Torah scroll. With a long gray beard, wearing a bright orange shirt and yarmulke, he walked out sadly with Rabbi Eliezer Waldman of Kiryat Arba, as youths sang around him. Earlier, those inside could be seen, via television zoom lenses, wearing tefillin, linking arms, crying and praying.

Another synagogue in Sa-Nur was also emptied of its occupants, amidst strong resistance but no violence.

All the while, soldiers were stationed in great numbers around both Sa-Nur and Chomesh, ensuring that no further Land of Israel loyalists enter. Unmanned drones in the air also helped out in the effort to detect would-be infiltrators from coming to show their support for the Land of Israel, its communities and their inhabitants. Hundreds of people have been arrested or stopped over the past two days as they tried to enter the towns.

"The only way I will leave this roof is in a cage," MK Eldad said.

Among the others on the roof were Rabbi Chaim Smutrich, Eldad's daughter Karni (a former aide to MK Uri Ariel), Arutz-7's Kobi Sela, and Yesha Council leader Pinchas Wallerstein.

The roof of the British building in fact proved to be the hardest battle today. The expulsion forces attempted to lift two large containers holding soldiers - and reporters - onto the roof. The youths on the roof held them at bay for several minutes, however, pushing them with long poles. Finally, however, the containers were positions aside the top of the building, and the forces ran out onto the roof.

At that minute, as was pre-arranged among them, the youths gathered inside a large tent on the roof, and sat on the floor. The army agreed that a last prayer service would then be held, after which the actual removal of the Land of Israel loyalists began.

Many people cried at the destruction of the last community in Sharon's Disengagement plan. Karni Eldad weeped nearly uncontrollably on her father's shoulder, saying, "Our soul has been torn in half. How can we not cry?"

Her father, speaking in a choked voice, said only, "The struggle has only just begun. We will throw Sharon out, and I vow: We will return to here."

In the Chomesh synagogue, a scene reminiscent of the N'vei Dekalim synagogue replayed itself out. Soldiers used great force to try to remove the youths one at a time, but this proved very difficult, as they were linked together. Prayers and singing continued all the while, and each boy, as he was taken out, continued to flail and struggle. The boys were careful not to hit the soldiers, however. The entire process took some three hours.

Disdain for the press was evident all over. Rabbi David Dudkevitz, the rabbi of Yitzhar and the spiritual authority for those known as the Hilltop Youths, refused to speak with television announcers, saying, "I won't speak with an impure medium - even though my mother would like to see me on television." Another boy, grappling with soldiers while being taken out of the Chomesh synagogue, found the strength to disdainfully push away a microphone that was stuck in his face in mid-struggle.

Another boy said, just moments before he was taken out, "We never had illusions that we could defeat the army. We merely wanted to show that it is cannot be easy to take Jews out of the Land of Israel. This is our way of showing our belief and faith. We also knew that at any moment, G-d could miraculously turn everything around. This is why we continue struggling up until the very end."

MK Eldad said, "It was important to provide an example of true love of homeland... The spirit of the people here is stronger than that of Sharon. We're not leaving forever; we will return."

People from Sa-Nur made their way to Kfar HaRoeh, near Hadera, where local residents had prepared a royal welcoming. Some 28 families from Sa-Nur will head from there for Beit El for a few days, where many families have each adopted one family. Families from Chomesh will make their way to Elkanah in the Shomron.

Where to from there? Yossi Dagan, spokesman for Sa-Nur, said, "I don't know. I personally feel that we should strengthen the other communities in the northern Shomron - Dotan, Chermesh and Shavei Shomron - but we will have to see."