Daily Israel Report

Letter to IDF General: How Could You?

Yaakov Tessler, 17, wrote to the IDF Central Commander, asking why he was cruelly beaten in Amona, nearly losing an eye, even though he posed no threat and was merely registering his protest.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 2/9/2006, 11:25 AM / Last Update: 2/9/2006, 1:21 PM

The entire letter by 17-year-old Yaakov Tessler of Jerusalem:

Dear Central Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh,

Peace and blessing.

I feel an obligation to turn to you, as one who is entrusted with the values of the army and the rule of law on the one hand, and with Jewish values and the Torah's commandments, on the other.

I would like to address the events that occurred during the evacuation of the nine houses in Amona.

As one who did not merit being in Gush Katif during the evacuation there, I felt a deep solidarity with the protest actions of the Gush Katif residents. I felt that this time, I could express my feelings by protesting. I therefore arrived happily in Amona, with the understanding and knowledge that there was still an appeal pending to the Supreme Court that might allow the houses to be evacuated voluntarily, without a struggle. My heart told me that the Supreme Court would certainly agree to this option, but I still decided to come in order to be certain that the houses would not be evacuated without the required protest against such an act of evacuating homes or communities in the Land of Israel.

To my surprise, the Supreme Court preferred the forced evacuation, rather than having it done by agreement.

I prepared myself for the evacuation, with the intention of undergoing this event - the evacuation of houses from the Land of Israel and a struggle - together with the cream of the crop of Israeli youth, struggling for their Land and inheritance with dignity and valor. I never dreamt or imagined that I would soon undergo such humiliation, murderous punches and injuries (my eye was saved from permanent damage only by miracle) by the policemen of the State of Israel, over whom you, as the Region Commander, commanded.

I hereby declare that I held nothing in my hand, I threw nothing, I did not fight, I did not hit and I did not curse anyone. I sat in one of the houses with the understanding that very soon, I would be asked to leave, in accordance with a political decision and court order.

As I was sitting in the house, a group of Yassam police entered and did not make any request for us to leave. Instead, they simply started hitting us with clubs, very forcefully and painfully, as if those sitting in front of them were criminals and murderers. When I tried to go out, and despite my telling the Yassamniks that I was going on my own and that I didn't need to be dragged or hit, they struck me for no reason: They smashed my head against the wall, kicked me in my back, threw me on the floor, and hit me very hard with their clubs on my head, eyes and nose, to the point where I was severely and painfully injured.

All this occurred as I was asking them to be allowed to leave the house.

Up to this very minute, the feelings of dread and fear pursue me, entirely shaking up my feelings towards the law, the police, the army, the Supreme Court, and all the government institutions.

I would be very happy if your honor would respond to this letter, which is written from the depths of my heart.

Why, when you saw these things happening to me and my friends (there are tens of testimonies), did you not intervene and stop the evacuation? Why did you not tell the truth when you were interviewed?

How could you have planned and approved such a sensitive mission as the evacuation of parts of the Land of Israel with orders for such terrible violence against the most idealistic youths in Israeli society?

I am sad to say to you, General Naveh, that it will be hard for me to forget or forgive those who injured me so severely, or to those who commanded those forces - unless I receive a reasonable explanation and a public apology from all the elements who hurt me and my friends with no justification. It is very unfortunate that precisely in the year before my enlistment in the army, and after having received an invitation to apply for the Israel Air Force pilots' course and for the elite Sayeret Matkal unit, this is the slap in the fact that I and my friends receive.

Enclosed is my photograph, taken after the police battle in evacuating me from the house in Amona.

Signed with sorrow,
with thanks and blessing,
Yaakov Tessler