Amona Braces for Destruction of Homes Tonight

Tensions are rising in Amona, where over 5,000 people have gathered to resist the planned destruction of 9 homes. "We won't make it easy for those who come to destroy our houses," one resident said.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 11:40

Thousands of people, mainly youths, are now in Amona and nearby Ofrah, preparing to struggle against the planned IDF destruction of nine homes in Amona. The theme appears to be: The passive nature of the Gush Katif struggle will not repeat itself.
Amona Protestors Preparing for Demolition Forces

Rabbi Avi Gisser, the Rabbi of Ofra, said he is against all violence, "but we will not be like Gush Katif; there will be no agreements by which we will get up and go. No one will leave here without being dragged out."

Rabbi Yisrael Ariel has moved to Amona with his family, joining MK Uri Ariel (no relation), who moved there earlier this week. Rabbi Ariel, who was the rabbi of the destroyed Sinai city of Yamit (1982), spoke to hundreds of residents and guests Monday night, encouraging them on the eve of the planned destruction.
Amona Rooftop Fortified with Barbed Wire

Some 35 families reside in other, less permanent homes in Amona. These are not in dispute and are in no danger of being demolished.

In an attempt to prevent the influx of Land of Israel supporters, the army set up roadblocks along Route 60, the highway leading north from Jerusalem towards the Shomron (Samaria) on Monday night. It also cut off the electricity to Amona and Ofrah last night, but removed both measures after a brief period. Many non-Shomron residents were stopped at the permanent Hizme checkpoint outside northern Jerusalem's Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood. Some of them began walking to the north, and others waited for Shomron residents to come and pick them up.

After Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert canceled at least two other meetings with settlement leaders of Judea and Samaria, he finally met with them last night - but refused to compromise. Binyamin Council Chairman Pinchas Wallerstein, Yesha Council veteran Ze'ev Chever (Zambish) and Yesha Council Chairman Bentzy Lieberman told Olmert of the efforts they had made towards an agreement, including sealing the homes with concrete blocks. They asked for two months in which to finalize all the legal details involved in the purchase of the land.

Olmert refused, saying, "I am determined to proceed" with the destruction of Amona - though he said he would be willing to continue to discuss other outposts in Judea and Samaria.

MK Uri Ariel said that Olmert's refusal is based merely on electoral considerations, hoping to show the electorate that he can make and execute tough decisions. "He could have easily solved this mess," Ariel said about Olmert. "Don't forget that just a few hundred meters from here, there are many illegal Arab homes which don't seem to bother anyone... If there is no choice, then we are prepared for a struggle. I call upon people to come in their thousands."

At present, leaders of the struggle expect the operation to begin sometime Tuesday night. The IDF roadblocks are expected to be put in place again during the course of the day. Residents of nearby Jewish communities are preparing to walk to Amona by foot, via Arab villages, and to help the struggle in other ways, such as by blocking army forces or otherwise keeping them occupied.

Leaders of the struggle say they do not promote violence, but the general consensus is that there is no genuine leadership, and that many youths will act as they please. Despite this, calls continue to be made for no violence against policemen and soldiers.

Tuesday morning, a large group of youths attempted to break into an army post near Ofra, from where forces are expected to be called for action against Amona. Some reports say they managed to sabotage some heavy equipment to be used in the destruction.

New resident Rabbi Ariel concentrated in his talk on the historic and security importance of the site, located on a mountain top 20 kilometers due north of Jerusalem:
"Here, on the next mountain over, is Mt. Hatzor, one of the most important IDF bases and the highest mountain in Judea and Samaria, looking over from Ashkelon to Mt. Hermon. According to an ancient scroll from the Second Temple period, found in the Judean Desert by a well-known archaeologist, the Patriarch Abraham stood on this mountain, looked out at the entire State of Israel, and was told by G-d, 'Arise and walk in the Land, through its length and breadth, for to you I will give it.' The scroll describes in detail Abraham's journeys through the Land until he returned to Hebron. We are here to return to our roots."

The rabbi also noted that the region of Amona was the site of a major battle of Judah the Maccabee against the Syrian Greeks: "Abraham arrived by himself, and Judah led a small group and won, and we too - it doesn't matter if we are few or many: we will certainly win, for we do not give up on the Land of Israel, and are willing to suffer and get hit on its behalf."

Central Region Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh said that his forces had been ordered to "arrest without blinking:"
"I fear that the violence will be more intense than in Gush Katif, and therefore we are preparing for extreme cases. For this we have the elite Yamam forces and the special Massada Prison Service force... [The forces] will not be armed, but will be with clubs and helmets, and the order is to arrest freely and with determination. There must be correct documentation and 'arrests without blinking.'"

Out of 6,200 policemen and soldiers preparing for the destruction, about 1,600 of them will be in the "first circle." Their task will be to remove the youths and other protestors so that the buildings can be destroyed.

The town of Ofra, adjacent to Amona, has turned its many educational institutions and public buildings into dining and sleeping facilities for the youths and other guests. On Tuesday, groups of youths could be seen walking around, climbing to the roofs of the threatened homes, raising equipment such as barbed wire and tires to the roofs, and making other preparations.

One man sprayed the nearby walls with the message, "In Sodom, too, there were courts" - a reference to the decisions by the Supreme Courts and lower courts enabling the destruction of the Amona homes. Thousands of illegal Arab structures have not been destroyed by Israeli authorities, which instead allow the builders to complete the legal procedures after the construction is completed.