Some 200 youths and adults on a week-long "Land of Hilltops Trek" were attacked by Arabs with clubs and rocks. The police arrested Jews, including one who fired in the air.
The trek, which began on Sunday, is being led by veteran Yesha (Judea and Samaria) settlement pioneer Daniella Weiss, former Mayor of Kedumim. She described what happened:
"This is the third day of our beautiful march through the hilltops of the Land of Israel, which we began in Sa-Nur [one of four Jewish communities in Samaria that were destroyed in Ariel Sharon's Disengagement plan - ed.], and are planning to end up in Asa'el in southern Judea. We have already been to Shvut Ami [adjacent to Kedumim], Kol Tzion near Adei Ad [just outside Shilo], and we are now at Maoz Esther, near Kokhav HaShachar.
"The plan is to continue to Migron, then Shaar HaMizrach (Gateway to the East) between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim, and then we will sleep in Shdemah (south-eastern Jerusalem, near Har Homa), and then to Maaleh Halhoul and Asa'el. Each of this places has important significance in terms of Jewish presence in the area.
Click here for map of Judea and Samaria, about 1/6 of the way down the page.
"Everything was going very well, until we arrived in Maoz Esther. A bunch of Arabs swooped down upon us with rocks and clubs, and three of our people were injured; they have just been evacuated by ambulance. At one point, one of our escorts tried to protect one of our boys, and he shot in the air. Right then, something amazing happened:
"From behind a little hill suddenly emerged some cars and policemen wearing civilian clothes, but with police hats - and they arrested the one who shot in the air, as well as some of our other escorts who were carrying weapons!
"Apparently, the police were waiting and watching the whole time, doing nothing until our boy shot in the air. They want to leave us without weapons, and thus cause us to call off our entire trek, because they see - and want to discourage - the wonderful and pioneering spirit that we bring."
"But we will of course not stop, though we are now trying to figure out the best course of action. I can tell you that there will be some sharp measures and protests against the security forces."
Other participants accused the police of outright cooperation with the Arabs in their ambush of the Jews.
When told of a report that two Arabs were also arrested, Daniella seemed surprised and skeptical. "We saw no such thing," she said.
MK Eldad: Police State in Service of Olmert Gov't
MK Prof. Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said in response, "This is just another step in the police agreeing to become a 'political police' in the service of the Olmert government."
Eldad noted the decisions this week to place three Shomron Jews under house arrest and restrict Jewish entry to certain areas of Samaria. "If the security forces do not revert immediately to protecting Jews instead of fighting against them alongside the Arabs, a catastrophe can be expected - and the responsibility will lie squarely with the Defense Minister [Ehud Barak] and the Public Security Minister [Avi Dichter]."