How did it happen that yeshiva students in the Givati Brigade took part in the military operation to destroy the Federman-Tor farm and homes three nights ago? Very simple: Senior security commanders lied to them and told them they were participating in a mission to help catch a terrorist.
Ro'i Sharon, reporter for the Maariv daily newspaper, revealed that it was feared that the young soldiers would refuse to take part in the mission if they knew it was not military but rather one of destroying Jewish homes.
"This creates mistrust between echelons in the military framework, and is liable to cost human life. In the next security incident, the residents won't believe the security forces, and the soldiers won't believe their commanders."
A member of Hevron's emergency alert team, which generally works closely with the army, was quoted as saying: "This creates mistrust between echelons in the military framework, and is liable to cost human life. In the next security incident, the residents won't believe the security forces, and the soldiers won't believe their commanders."
"It is sad that for the purpose of destroying two Jewish homes, they cause such harm to the delicate security relations here," the man said.
Border Guard officials confirmed that the soldiers had been tricked. "The sensitivity of the incident required us to maintain high secrecy," a Border Guard source told Maariv.
The incident in question was the bulldozing of two Jewish homes in Kiryat Arba in the middle of the night, in which the occupants of the two buildings were given five and zero minutes, respectively, to get dressed and pack some belongings.
The forces arrived in three rings: Special black-uniformed Yassam policemen in the inner ring, doing the actual destruction, including breaking windows, hitting the occupants (at least one woman and some children), throwing and trampling books and clothing, and bulldozing the buildings; policemen to protect them and ensure that Jewish neighbors not come close; and soldiers at street intersections to prevent Jews from entering the area.
The soldiers were some 40 yeshiva hesder soldiers whose job it was to man the entrances to the area. They told residents who wished to enter the area to fight the destruction that a terrorist had been sighted in the area. In some cases, they had to fight with Jews who tried to enter despite the warnings.
Thanks to the soldiers' work, the Federman and Tor homes were practically empty of Jews, and their destruction proceeded without interruption.
One soldier told reporter Sharon afterwards, "I still cannot believe that I had a part in this eviction. I am a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, not a policeman, and there is no reason that they should take me on missions that have nothing to do with protecting Jews. I almost cried when I found out."
Though the Border Guard confirmed the deception, the IDF claimed that a terrorist had in fact been sighted near the Machpelah Cave, some three kilometers away. Hevron's Jews said they received no word of any such incident.
Brief short of the Violent Eviction and Razing
The destruction, as described by Hevron spokesman David Wilder, happened like this:
"The troops broke the home's windows and climbed in through them. They quickly made their way to the children's bedrooms where they shook awake the kids, dragged them from their beds, beating some of them, and forcefully expelling them from their home, still in pajamas. Some of the kids went via the door; others via the window... Once everyone was out, the bulldozer started plowing down the houses and other structures on the property. It didn't take too much time, as the families were not allowed to remove any of their belongings. Down came the houses, on top of everything that was inside."
Noam Federman, owner of one of the two homes flattened by the police forces, told IsraelNationalNews on Wednesday morning, "The rebuilding is continuing. The army arrived with a small force last night and tried to close off the area with concrete blocks, but they did not succeed... Right now there are dozens of people continuing to work on clearing the spot and rebuilding - if only to have some shelter for the chickens, horses and other animals of our farm. Interesting, I didn't hear anyone from the Animal Rights Society protesting or offering to help..."
"We, too, are fortunate that only 'bricks and stones' were damaged - and with G-d's help we will rebuild them!"
"We are now collecting money for several projects: To rebuild something in which a family can live, to replace the equipment that was wantonly destroyed, and to help us live day-to-day; even the money that we had in our home has not been found as of yet..."
Federman has successfully sued the police on several occasions for their harrassment of him. He said that in this case, there was a legal order for the home's destruction, "but not with all the property in it, and not to purposefully destroy our computer, refrigerator, washing machine, cameras, and the like. I plan to sue the police for that, when the time comes."
"But all in all, we are fortunate that none of us were hurt; we are all healthy and whole. I feel like King David, who was told that he could not construct the Holy Temple - but the reason was not, as many people think, because he had killed in war, but because he had been so successful in war that G-d said that a Holy Temple built by him would be invincible, and that if G-d had to punish Israel, He would have to harm the Jews themselves. Instead, the Holy Temple was built by someone else, and when it came time for punishment, the Temple itself was destroyed, while the Jewish People themselves were left relatively safe. We, too, are fortunate that only 'bricks and stones' were damaged - and with G-d's help we will rebuild them!"