In the early hours of Thursday morning, Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, arrived at one of the "new settlement" sites established by the Nachala movement, near the town of Peduel in the Samaria, in close proximity to Road 5. Dagan's visit was prompted by his learning that Border Police had arrived in force and were violently evacuating the Jews there, just as they had already done in five other locations.
Peduel is located across the "Green Line" in Samaria, and is around 15 miles from the city of Petah Tikva.
Dagan was accompanied by the head of the Nachala movement, Daniella Weiss, and by MK Simcha Rotman of the Religious Zionism party.
"We have seen terrible scenes of violence here -- for instance, two youths have been seriously injured, one whose jaw seems to be broken and the other has a head wound," Dagan said. "There are thousands of our people here, young and old, with eyes lit up and Zionism burning in their hearts. They came here at the request of the Israeli government, to establish new communities in Judea and Samaria, and there is no more legitimate protest than this," he insisted.
With respect to the current government, Dagan was scathing. "This Lapid government is behaving in an unprecedented manner, hypocritically discriminating against Jews here in Judea and Samaria -- this is racism. They have not chosen to act in this way against left-wing activists who have thrown rocks at security forces on many occasions -- no such military operation has been launched against them. The scenes that have taken place here and in other locations tonight haven't been seen since the Expulsion," he added, referring to the events of 2005 when Jewish communities were removed from Gaza and parts of Samaria.
"Yair Lapid is responsible for the violence," Dagan stressed, "and I demand that he stop it. Those here are Israeli citizens and this is their demonstration -- and also the life-breath of democracy. The demand to establish new communities is legitimate. The Lapid government is betraying its task of building the Land of Israel and damaging Zionism, and the unprecedented levels of violence it is using are unacceptable in a democratic state -- aside from the fact that such means are not used against any other sector of the population. The general public here in the State of Israel demands that this government come back to its senses," he concluded.
"There is a huge dissonance between the light burning in the eyes of the people here, and the frankly violent behavior of the security forces," said MK Rotman. "They are using collective punishment against the residents of Judea and Samaria, who have been held up for hours in traffic jams [due to police movement and the declaration of closed military zones]. They have caused harm to all the residents of Judea and Samaria, but have not succeeded in stopping people from going up to the land. They are simply persecuting us for political reasons," he accused.
Daniella Weiss, head of the Nachala movement, added, "Today, a new chapter has opened in the history of Zionism. We have suffered from the construction freeze for years, and also from the incessant attempts of Arabs to appropriate national lands. Now we are saying 'enough.' We will no longer allow Arabs to seize our lands. Everyone here knows that we are opening a new and significant chapter in the history of Zionism."