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      Photo Essay: Sde Boaz Alive and Well Despite Destruction

      The agricultural community of Sde Boaz continues to build despite the destruction.
      By Ezra HaLevi
      First Publish: 1/13/2006, 7:33 AM / Last Update: 1/12/2006, 12:56 PM

      The agricultural community of Sde Boaz, a haven of religious tolerance and firm ideals, became the scene of police violence and government-sanctioned destruction Wednesday, but continues to build.

      Residents have sought to create an example of what Israel can be when Jews from diverse walks of life come together to build, getting their hands dirty and breaking a sweat the way their forefathers did, in the hills south of Jerusalem.


      A vineyard planted by a Sde Boaz resident
      Due to the unseasonably warm weather, Sde Boaz's almond trees, thinking spring has arrived, have blossomed
      Residents enjoy a meal with soldiers stationed at Sde Boaz to protect a powerful surveillance camera located there
      Residents take part in the annual wheat harvest before the Festival of Shavuot. Sde Boaz [literally 'The Fields of Boaz'], which overlooks Bethlehem and Jerusalem, is named after Boaz, the field-owner of the Bible who married Ruth and became the grandfath
      A lazy summer day in Sde Boaz
      A summer night in Sde Boaz
      A structure on the outskirts of Sde Boaz
      At 3,300 feet, Sde Boaz receives snow every winter
      Freshly harvested organic Sde Boaz tomatos and tomatillos
      Sde Boaz kids sitting on a stone terrace built by residents
      Inside the synagogue at Sde Boaz - made from what are now being called 'caravillas' - the double caravans used to house those expelled from Gush Katif and northern Samaria
      A resident plants corn, an experimental crop for the rocky terrain, which is ideal for olive trees and vineyards
      A resident prays on his front porch
      Springtime in Sde Boaz
      An outdated aerial photo of Sde Boaz, courtesty of Peace Now's Settlement Watch team, shows the three thoroughfares that all meet at Sde Boaz
      The view of the main Jerusalem-Hevron Highway and the northern entrance to the town of Efrat from Sde Boaz - which unlike most other Gush Etzion communities, has refused to erect a fence around itself



      Wednesday, despite promises from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that Gush Etzion would remain in Jewish hands "for eternity" and a letter from US President George W. Bush, residents found themselves joined by hundreds of fellow Jews in a struggle against bulldozers and riot police sent to demolish a home built by one of the residents and the horses' stable.


      A small number of police show up at Sde Boaz early Wednesday morning to discover that hundreds of people have come to protect the threatened home, reinforcements are called and a bulldozer is escorted in
      The army demolishes the stable built by Sde Boaz residents for the community's horses and donkeys
      Activists surround the threatened house, hoping to prevent its destruction
      A young protestor is thrown to the ground by four Yassam riot police
      A resident from nearby Neve Daniel, beaten by police and arrested
      A protester bodily protecting the foundations of a future Sde Boaz home is roughed up by a Yassam-unit Border Policeman
      After more than six hours of struggling, calling in reinforcements, and firing tear-gas grenades at non-violent demonstrators still in the house, the structure is bulldozed
      The remains of the demolished home lie behind police and soldiers as residents and activists stand aside in shock
      Residents say they will not be broken and will build two structures in the coming days to take the place of the one that was destroyed

      (Photos: Sde Boaz residents, Orange Cell, Baruch Brenner and Ezra HaLevi)