Hundreds Injured in Brutal Demolition of Nine Jewish Homes
Hundreds of activists were injured - some seriously - as police forces violently stormed the hilltop community of Amona, bashed protestors and MKs, and demolished nine homes.
The Magen David Adom emergency medical service reported that a total of 144 wounded were evacuated to hospitals in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Roughly half of the injured were protestors. Hundreds of other wounded protestors were treated in Amona itself. Eleven people were evacuated by IDF helicopters - yet only a total of six are in serious or moderate condition.
Close to 300 other protestors were treated in a giant tent set up for the purpose near the site of the destruction.
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One injured protestor said, "We were standing in the front line, with no intention of using violence or anything, and all of a sudden the police just rained down on us with horses and clubs... My injury seems to OK; I hardly needed any stitches, and the doctors here [at Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital] sent me home for three days of rest. But others were hurt even more than I was."
Rallies were held around the country against police brutality and the destruction of the Amona homes all over Israel Wednesday evening. The entrance to Jerusalem, in Sderot and the main Tel Aviv-area Geha Junction were scenes of some of the larger protests. Police violence was reported once again later in the day in Jerusalem.
At the entrance to Jerusalem, 100 people demonstrated and held signs against the destruction in Amona. They stood on the sidewalks and did not interfere with traffic. In downtown Jerusalem, a similar but smaller rally was held.
The Yesha Rabbis Council issued this statement: "We are shocked from the cruel and horrific abuse perpetrated by Israeli police upon Jews... 37,000 demolition orders are ready to be executed, and of all of them, the Supreme Court and the police chose precisely this one in Amona, with the goal of destroying the religious-Zionist public."
One girl who participated in the protest arrived home with bruises on her face and leg, saying, "I got out safely only by miracle." Her story:
"We were outside the 5th house, with the goal of forming a line to stop the police from climbing into the windows. We had planned in advance, because of modesty and the like, that when the police would tell us to go, we would go right away. But they didn't let us. They just set upon us - all of them: Yasamnikim, Border Guard, soldiers, everyone - and didn't give us a chance. I screamed, 'I'm going by myself!' but they didn't care; I heard them saying, 'Smack them! Get them!' They hit me with a club on my leg, and then they pushed me to the ground and smashed me with clubs twice more - once on my face, right near my eye. Miraculously, he didn't hit me on the skull; I saw others right near me bleeding from their heads, unconscious - it was just terrible... It was just by miracle that nothing worse happened to me."
Yifat Ehrlich, the owner of one of the destroyed homes, was interviewed on Israel Television. Asked about the fact that the State was destroying the buildings legally, she said, "This whole thing has nothing to do with law, but only with politics. The Supreme Court did not order the houses destroyed, but merely refrained from intervening in a political decision of the government. The government decided to destroy the buildings, in spite of the fact that we were in the midst of finalizing the purchase."
"I want to say,"Yifat said, "that from an ethical standpoint, I feel much better about the houses we built than you should feel. The land here was never occupied by an Arabs, it was totally barren when we came, no one has ever come to claim ownership, and we did not banish any one from this land - as opposed to where you might be sitting in Jerusalem, or in Tel Aviv, or in Haifa, where many Arabs used to be living..."
"As you can see on the screen in front of you, the bulldozers are having a harder time destroying these structures than in Gush Katif. In Gush Katif, when Sharon the bulldozer was in charge, each house took a few minutes to raze, while here, with Olmert, it's not going so fast. Why? Because Olmert is not yet the bulldozer that Sharon was - but soon, the media will help turn him into a bulldozer, and he'll be able to do it stronger...
"The only reason why all this violence is happening is because Olmert wanted blood - and so he received it. But the truth is, it doesn't matter; we have patience. Because I'm sitting here nursing my three-week-old baby, next to my other children here in the park in Ofrah, and we'll have other children with G-d's help - not like Olmert, whose daughter has left the country - and soon in 20 or 30 years, we will be in charge - and then we will have a country based on fear of G-d, and pleasantness, and mutual respect."
When Yifat mentioned Olmert, the interviewer interrupted by saying that she should not get into "personal details," but she continued talking, and the interview then ended.
Central Region Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh said the police used "reasonable force." He said that the police merely responded to the grave violence of the protestors, including cinderblocks and metal pipes, and were "not far from life-threatening situations."
Hamas responded to the events in Amona by stating, "We have no reason to thank the army for emptying out this settlement."
Amona spokesman Ariel Kahane said, "I have never seen police violence on the scale I saw today, especially when the police rammed through a line of civilian protestors."
Some 20 protestors have been arrested, though some reports say that the true amount is more than double that. Among them are Hillel Roth of the Honenu civil rights organization and Nadia Matar of Women in Green, who was brought out on a stretcher. Hillel Roth said that he was arguing with a senior police officer when the latter became enraged and put him under arrest. Matar spoke to Arutz-7 from Hadassah Hospital. She said that after her arrest, the police threw her down, injuring her in the back. "But I'm not the issue," she said. "What about the hundreds of others who were hurt even worse than me?"
The police say they plan to make many more arrests. They will search through the hours of video film clips they took, and try to identify every protestor who threw something at police. They will then come and arrest them at home.