This past Oct. 26, the day after the Sukkot holiday, hundreds of youths from around the country attempted to build four new neighborhoods in the Yesha (Judea and Samaria) communities of Efrat, Kedumim, Elon Moreh and Kiryat Arba. "Expansion in Place of Destruction" - har'havah bimkom hah'ravah - was the motto of the new initiative, in the wake of the destruction wrought upon Gush Katif and northern Samaria just two months earlier.



In at least one of the cases - in the new outpost near Kedumim, in the Shomron (Samaria) - the police and army forces employed particularly strong violence in order to evacuate the youth. The idealistic teenagers later related accounts of girls being dragged by their hair across rocky ground, punches to the ribs and face, and more.



"But not only were they physically beaten," says Orit Strook of Hevron, considered the leading human rights activist of the nationalist right-wing camp, "they felt that they were beaten a second time when they were widely condemned by their own rabbis, MKs and public figures, who did not bother to first find out the entire story."



The story that was widely publicized in the media at the time was that the youths had been violent towards the security forces. Strook says she remembers Yesha Council officials and others who immediately took to the airwaves to condemn their behavior. "It took the youths a while to get their act together," she told Arutz-7, "but now they have put together a very powerful movie [in Hebrew, but with footage of the violent evacuation] that shows exactly what they went through."



The movie was sent, on a disk, to some 50 leading rabbis and Knesset Members, with an accompanying letter written by the youths explaining the double disappointment they felt - from the physical violence, and the condemnations they received.



Excerpts from various people who appear in the movie:

"We held tight to each other... the police tried to neutralize each of us by holding the groin and choking; one policemen choked me for about 15 seconds while holding me in the groin... They laughed and joked as if they enjoyed using the force... Two policemen dragged a girl by her ponytail - without holding her in any other way, across the ground and the rocks, and she was really in pain; she cried out, 'Stop, I'll go,' but they kept on; I came over and tried to help her, one policeman took me and pushed me against the wall, twisted my arm and pushed my face up, I cried and told him he was breaking my arm, and he put his face very close to mine and threatened me... When there were no cameras around, they used extreme violence; when there were cameras, they used only moderate violence... I saw them pick up girls and throw them and drag them, and then the girls would fall down and couldn't walk, so the police would kick them and pick them up and throw them down... I saw them drag my sister out by her leg, over the rocks and ground, her skin and back was all scratched up... One policeman suddenly came over and gave me such a slap; I don't know how it helped him... I saw a bunch of girls walking down the path, leaving on their own - but 4-5 policewomen were running after them, hitting them, kicking them - it was just a terrible sight. In particular, one policewoman was brutally violent against one of the girls, kicking her and throwing her, over and over; I tried to stop her, but I wasn't able to... One boy was being beaten, and other policemen came and pushed them away so that they could hit him too..."



Though IDF officials and others accused the youths in Elon Moreh of employing violence against the soldiers, one of the leaders of the settlement initiative, 16-year-old Yirat, told Arutz-7 at the time,

"I can tell you that the army and police were shockingly violent - and then blamed us for all their violence. The police hit, took yarmulkes, threw cameras and phones out the window, and the like. They were without name tags... the boys were infuriated by this, and so they set alight two benches in the old bus onto which they loaded us... In addition to their violence, the soldiers took a lot of our equipment from the site - such as a bicycle, three tables, projectors, chairs..."



Strook told Arutz-7 that one of the police commanders told a woman during the evacuation that they were acting so strongly "in order that you not make us come out [to evacuate you] every Monday and Thursday."



The letter accompanying the movie was written by Rabbi Daniel Shilo of the Yesha Rabbis Council, Kedumim Mayor Daniella Weiss, and Merav Vaserteil of the Land of Israel Youth task force. Excerpts:



"We are turning to you following a difficult experience of violence on the part of the Israel Police - and an even more difficult and painful experience of being condemned and blamed by those who are supposed to be our leaders and the heads of our camp...



"As if the brutal attack wasn't enough, 'our' public leaders rushed to condemn the youth, and there were not enough courageous leaders and rabbis who would speak openly in the media about our idealistic youth. Precisely because we do not plan to give up our struggle on behalf of our hold on the Land of Israel, and in light of what awaits us, we have made this effort to bring directly to your home or office these testimonies and pictures that document what really happened, and who was the victim and who was the aggressor..."



Strook recalled the incident several months ago in which nails and the like were found on a highway in an apparent attempt to protest the disengagement - and the strong condemnations by religious-Zionist leaders that immediately followed it. "That was the morning before one of the major road-blockings," she said, "and I warned them that their condemnations - without finding out who was behind it - would be interpreted as a general condemnation of all the road-blockers, and would simply abandon those idealistic youths to strong police violence - and that's exactly what happened..."



The youth organization in question plans to establish additional outposts in Yesha in the coming days. Of the original four neighborhoods established after Sukkot, two of them are frequented by large groups on a weekly basis, while in Kedumim there is a daily presence, and in Elon Moreh, there are those who sleep there as well.