Pulitzer Prize Photo Star Beaten Seconds Afterwards
Pulitzer Prize Photo Star Beaten Seconds Afterwards

The latest breaking news photograph to win the prestigious Pulitzer Prize shows Nili, a 17-year-old girl from Jerusalem, facing off against dozens of policemen as she attempts to defend the Jewish homes in Amona.

Photos taken seconds later, which were not widely shown around the world, show how the story really ended, however: Nili is seen lying on the ground, with policemen beating her in the head with a club.

The prize-winning photo shows a long line of helmet-clad, black-uniformed, club-wielding policemen facing off against a young woman protestor; she is leaning heavily upon the large thick-plastic shield held by one of the policemen, as if to try and stop the entire line of policemen from advancing.

Nili being beaten and manhandled by police in Amona

Nili, who did not divulge her family name, says the picture is a "desecration of G-d's name, as it shows Jews fighting Jews."

The Knesset, Israel's parliament, conducted an inquiry into the police violence at Amona. An English video documents the excessive use of police force which triggered the probe.

The police were engaged in forcibly removing many hundreds of protestors from the hilltop community of Amona, overlooking Ofrah in the Binyamin region of Judea and Samaria, in preparation for the destruction of nine Jewish concrete-and-stone homes. The Supreme Court had ruled that the homes were built on Arab-owned land - though no one had ever claimed ownership and the land had never been lived on or worked by Arabs.

The Associated Press prize-winning photographer is Oded Balilty of Israel. The picture in question had already won other international awards, including World Press Photo, Pictures of the Year International, and more.

Nili returned with her parents to Amona on Thursday, and showed an AP press team and Israeli journalists the exact site of the photo. Sometimes choking back tears as she read aloud a prepared statement, Nili said the following: "When the State of Israel acts against the Land of Israel, and its soldiers and policemen are sent on missions of violence and destruction and expulsion of Jewish life from Gush Katif and northern Shomron and Amona - this is not a badge of honor, but rather a badge of shame.

"When I look at those policemen, I am unable to understand: Why did not even one of them stop in the name of ethics and ask himself if the order he received was moral or just? They simply acted as robots, at best, but in many cases as genuine sadists.

Photo: Miri Tsachi

"People who look at the picture ask me: 'What did you think you were doing, one girl against a wave of black-uniformed policemen? Why didn't you run away?' The answer is that we came to struggle [against the injustice]. We didn't come to surrender or to run away. We felt and thought that all of this evil and injustice must come up against a strong wall of determination.

"I saw this long line of policemen and I thought to myself, 'Behind them is one man - Olmert, but behind me is G-d... Whoever looks around at the ruins of these homes in Amona [which remain un-rebuilt - ed.] understands that there was no purpose to this operation other than the desire for destruction and self-hate.


"It must be understood that there is a complete generation here of youth who grew up in Eretz [Land of] Yisrael, who believe in the Torah and Eretz Yisrael, who insists on leading the Nation of Israel in a different direction, and who is willing to fight for it.

"The violence and cruelty in Amona did not break us - but rather strengthened us. They can break our heads and bones, but they cannot break our spirit."

Asked if she sees herself as a heroine, Nili said, "I try to do whatever I can for Eretz Yisrael and the Nation of Israel, to do what is necessary according to the Torah... I don't want to talk about myself."

Nili made reference to the pictures taken immediately after the Pulitzer-winner, "in which the policemen are 'punishing' me for daring to stand against them. But I have news for them: They did not succeed. What I did in Amona, I am willing, if necessary, to do again."

A more cynical view of the photo and what it represents was taken by commentator Haggai Segal writing for the weekly Makor Rishon: "This was all the police needed now: A prestigious Pulitzer Prize for a photo eternalizing dozens of Israeli policemen storming a defenseless female protestor with their clubs. Even blatant police regimes such as North Korea and Iran have not produced of late such a dramatic and provocative picture like this one. It is even more shivering than the famous shot of the Chinese student standing against a tank in Tiananmen Square. On Chanukah, we'll be able to use it as a great illustration of the idea of the 'few against the many.' ..."

Segal said that left-wing copywriters could probably think of captions that would give the photo a pro-police tilt. He suggested the following:

* "Rule of Law in Action: Police Enforcing Order in Amona"
* "Extremist Settler Attacking Policemen"
* "A Solution for Every Settler: Police Solving Problems in Amona"