On Monday morning, hundreds of police officers and officials from the Civil Administration arrived at the area near Kochav Hashachar in the Binyamin region, armed with heavy machinery, and set to work uprooting the outposts of Maoz Esther and A'ira Shahar, destroying buildings including a synagogue and several family homes.
Five families had been living in Maoz Esther and another three had been living in A'ira Shahar.
Police also erected barriers on many of the roads in the area in order to prevent Jews from arriving to protest the expulsions and destruction. Some of the barriers were manned by IDF soldiers.
Residents of A'ira Shahar expressed their fury at the government's actions. "Gantz, supported by Bennett and Shaked, is determined to return the settlement enterprise to the days of the Disengagement," said one resident. "The government is making more and more use of IDF soldiers against settlers, which shows us that the government is full of people who have no qualms about pursuing the battle against us."
In Maoz Esther, among the structures that were demolished was a synagogue built in memory of Ahuvya Sandak, who lived nearby. "The brutal destruction here which left eight families without a roof over their heads and also targeted a synagogue built in memory of Ahuvya Sandak illustrates how the government has taken the battle to a new level that hasn't been seen in years," said another resident. "This government is now openly warring against the settlement movement."
"MKs from the Yamina party who repeatedly announced their dedication to the Land of Israel and the settlement enterprise have yet again shown their hypocrisy," said another. "They are constantly breaking new records in the level of persecution against settlers, a level that hasn't been seen for many long years."
MK Itamar Ben Gvir, head of the Otzma Yehudit party, decried the destruction. "We have a racist government," he said. "With regard to Arabs, they've given an order that nothing is to be demolished; with Jews, they are destroying everything. The government is continuing to destroy the settlements and is abandoning the Land to the Palestinian Authority which is building all around here with no one raising a hand to stop them. Just recently, Defense Minister Gantz gave an order that no illegal Arab structures were to be demolished during Ramadan," he added.
"The State was built with the blood of our settler heroes who gave up their lives in order to settle the Land of Israel," he added, "and now this government that was built with a coalition that includes the Islamic Brotherhood is dancing on their blood and destroying this country's security along with everything we built here. What a disgrace."
MK Bezalel Smotrich, head of the Religious Zionism party, added: "This government of destruction has been in power for nine months. We are experiencing terrorist attack after terrorist attack, demolition after demolition, and the citizens of Israel are paying the price. Zero enforcement against Arabs anywhere in the country, and Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria is frozen whereas planning for Arab construction goes right ahead. The residents of Homesh and the young settlements are abused and degraded and now they are demolishing communities too. This Bennett-Shaked-Abbas government is working against the interests of Israeli citizens and against Zionism.
"This morning's destruction in the Binyamin region is yet another shameful episode for the government in its efforts to appease the Islamic Movement," he added. "These destructive, racist policies only operate against Jews - they are anti-Semitic policies. Every single government in the past that raised its hand against the Land of Israel ended its days in disgrace," he warned. "And this will be the fate of this government too."
Rabbi Ohad Krakover, the rabbi of Kochav Hashachar, arrived at Maoz Esther on Monday morning to view the destruction. "This is a tough morning for the Jewish People," he said. "As you can see, here they have destroyed the homes of Jewish families right next to the community of Kochav Hashachar, homes that were preventing Arabs from taking control of this area and choking us off. The government's shame is only compounded by the fact that they are ostensibly doing this to enforce the law against illegal construction -- but the real reason behind their actions is to enable Arabs to build illegal homes here and choke off the settlement enterprise.
"Unfortunately, this government is also causing Jews to hate one another and is harming the education of our youth," he continued. "I appeal to anyone who can prevent these terrible events from occurring to do what he can, and may G-d help the Jewish People to have more national pride and self-respect, and for us to love one another."