Shortly after 2:30 PM, less than five hours after meeting with officials of the Yesha Council, and three hours after meeting with Rabbi Moshe Levinger, Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave the order to begin violently evicting the residents of "Peace House," known as Beit HaShalom. This, despite documented proof on video and otherwise that Jews purchased the building from its Arab owners.
Photo: Yehuda Boltshauser
Six civilians were evacuated to nearby hospitals, including four listed in moderate condition. A total of 25 people were listed as injured, including Nadia Matar of Women in Green. She was taken to a hospital in Jerusalem, having been clubbed by a police officer at Peace House in her head and back.
The residents were in the middle of eating lunch when the policemen burst in to throw them out. The element of suprise worked totally to the forces' advantage, and they completed the eviction within an hour.
Photo: Yehuda Boltshauser
A Channel Two reporter said, "It's impossible to ignore the Palestinians standing around and applauding as they watch these scenes."
Barak Wanted a Clash
MK Aryeh Eldad: "This is a corrupt political spin by a Defense Minister who is willing to risk people's lives for his own political career. He wanted a clash, and he wanted to build a political career on the backs of the settlers."
Police up against youth inside Peace House
"To my sorrow," said Danny Dayan, head of the Yesha Council, "Ehud Barak decided to cooperate with the hot-headed ones, and not with the calm ones. There are those who wanted a clash, and they got one. This is an act of deception and one that is totally irresponsible. Apparently, when elections come along, all reason is thrown to the winds."
Scenes from outside Beit HaShalom were televised to the country, with a giant picture of Ehud Barak and Supreme Court Chief Justice headlined with the giant word "Robbers."
Channel Two reporter Sarah Beck announced that the Yassam policemen were seen to be without nametags, "a common practice in previous evacuations, in order to prevent the evacuees from suing them." By law, policemen must wear nametags, "and I was present at the Knesset committee session when police representatives promised that the law would be fulfilled."
Beck also said, "I must note that the police are preventing medics from reaching the wounded protestors. I have never seen this in the past."
The Path of Deception and Violence
Orit Strook, a spokesperson for the Hevron Jewish Community, similarly said that the matter could have been settled peacefully, "but Ehud Barak chose the path of deception and violence instead."
The forcible eviction took less than an hour, and policemen were soon in control of the roof and four floors of the building. Youths were soon seen trying to sneak back into the building, and others were reported to be entrenched in the basement until they were finally removed.
Students of Yeshivat Nir in Kiryat Arba tried to cross the valley and climb the hill to get to the building, but most of them were tear-gassed by the soldiers.
Sense of Fury at Betrayal
Hundreds of youths and protestors around the country responded to the perceived government betrayal and theft by blocking intersections and protesting. Police evacuated protestors from roads near Kiryat Arba and the Shomron, and clashes began in the afternoon between protestors and police in Jerusalem as well.
Six people have been arrested in the Jerusalem clashes.
Arabs Throwing Rocks, Police Doing Nothing
Hevron spokesman Noam Arnon said that ambulances were at first not permitted into the area to evacuate victims. He also said that just 100 meters from Peace House, "Arabs are throwing rocks with total abandon, with the police doing nothing to stop them."