Security forces and Civil Administration officials backed by bulldozers and heavy equipment converged on the hilltop community Eish Kodesh, 20 miles north of Jerusalem, between Shilo and Shvut Rachel Wednesday morning. The forces sought to destroy a water tower and several homes being constructed there. They were rebuffed by activists and later forced to restore water supplies by the Defense Ministry.
According to resident Bnaya Ze'ev, a shipping container was confiscated and the community's water tower was emptied with the aim of removing it as masses of activists flocked toward the community.
"Apparently, instead of turning off the water to Gaza, where rockets are being fired from daily, the government has sent them to cut us off instead," he told Arutz-7.
Residents called upon the public to protect the permanent homes being built at the mixed religious-secular community. The construction cost residents over 200,000 shekels so far and has come out of pocket as mortgages are not available for communities considered unauthorized by the government.
After a critical mass of people arrived and the Amana settlement movement reportedly filed for a stay in court, the security forces backed down - leaving together with the bulldozers. "We view the police behavior with severity," Yesha Council official Moti Yogev said. "Nowhere do the police cut a community off from water in such an irresponsible manner, even in Gaza. It seems the IDF Civil administration is seeking conflict. If they didn't like the placement of the water tower they could inform us and we know how to move it ten meters this way or that - but to leave a community without water?!"
Eish Kodesh (Holy Fire) is named after Eish-Kodesh Gilmor who was murdered by Arab terrorists at the start of the Oslo War, in October 2000. It was the name of the seminal work of the rabbi of the Warsaw Ghetto, Rabbi Kalonymos Kalman.
Yesha Council Denies Report of Deal
Shortly before the destruction began, state-run Israel Radio reported that the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea and Samaria (Yesha) and the government agreed to “relocate” 26 unauthorized hilltop communities that the government committed to destroy under the US-backed Road Map.
The Yesha Council denied such an agreement was reached and says a state-run radio journalist took statements about the Council's stance, given at a briefing Tuesday about negotiations, and tacked them on to the morning's story on Eish Kodesh.
According to the report, the Yesha Council agreed to the destruction of some of the 26 communities, which include the large Migron hilltop, following a promise by thegovernment to allow new communities to be built in Judea and Samaria within the route of the Partition Wall. Yesha Council Spokesman Yishai Hollander told Arutz-7 that nothing has changed, that the Council is seeking the authorization of communities on state lands and seeking a solution for communities on private land, to be "moved" to authorized sites as part of a comprehensive solution for the issue.
Yesha Council official Pinchas Wallerstein was quoted by NFC News as doubting that the government is capable or willing to authorize renewed building in Judea and Samaria.
According to Peace Now, which claims there are many more than 26 communities established after former PM Ariel Sharon rose to power (the date according to the Road Map after which new communities are considered "unauthorized"), the Defense Ministry does not list Eish Kodesh at one of the 26.
The communities on the list are: Avigayil (in Mt. Hevron region), Bat Ayin West West (in Gush Etzion, already destroyed), Hill 725 (Yitzhar South, in northern Samaria), Givat Assaf (overlooking major Beit El intersection), Givat Sal'it (in Jordan Valley), Ginot Aryeh (near Ofra, destroyed already), Red House (Adei Ad North, near Shilo), Givat HaRoeh (near Eli), Havat Gilad (in Samaria), Havat Ya'ir (in Binyamin), Havat Shaked (near Yitzhar), Hazon David (Tent synagogue between Kiryat Arba and Hevron), Tal Binyamin (at site of murder of Rabbi Binyamin Ze'ev Kahane and his wife Talia), Yatir Southwest (in Mt. Hevron region), Migron (overlooking Highway 60 in Binyamin), Mul Nevo (Havat Orna), Maaleh Rechavam (in eastern Gush Etzion), Mitzpeh Yitzhar, Mitzpeh Lachish, Mevo Horon Agricultural Farm (along Highway 443 Jerusalem-Modi'in Highway), Sde Boaz (in Gush Etzion), Nofei Nechemia (near Ariel), Sussia Northwest (in Mt. Hevron region), Assa'el, Ramat Gilad, Sde Calev (south of Kiryat Arba) and Tekoa D (between Tekoa and the Judean Desert, in eastern Gush Etzion).
The Yesha Council confirmed that this is the list being discussed, though said the individual names of comunities are not listed in the Road Map document.
Defense Ministry Later Orders Water Restored
The Defense Ministry ordered that water supplies be restored to the hilltop community of Eish Kadosh later Wednesday, after increased protest from Yesha Council officials and politicians. According to Hollander, the Civil Administration sought to destroy a cement foundation upon which the tower rested, saying it was built without a permit.
Click here for photos from Eish Kodesh taken by a local photographer prior to the destruction.