IDF, Border Police demolish three dwellings at Migron

By
September 5, 2011 04:59

Court overturns previous emergency injunction which halted demolition; 4 activists injured, 6 arrested; hundreds of Border Police on scene.




Demolished house in Migron outpost in W. Bank

Migron Demolition 311. (photo credit:Marc Israel Sellem)

Four activists were injured and six arrested early Monday morning in clashes with Border Police during the demolition of three homes at the Migron outpost in the Binyamin area of the West Bank.

At one point, it appeared as if an emergency injunction issued in the early hours of the morning would save the unauthorized homes, but it was overturned within less than two hours.

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Activists had warned of stiff resistance should the state make good on its pledge to destroy the unauthorized homes this month.

But the event, which lasted roughly from 12:30 to 5 a.m., passed relatively peacefully when compared with past demolitions in other West Bank Jewish communities. All those arrested were later released, but charges were filed against one of them.

Migron residents who had hoped to make a deal with the state to delay the demolitions were caught by surprise; particularly given the amount of political support they had received along with IDF pledges of advanced warning.

“We were expecting a visit Monday by high-level security officials to discuss the issue,” said outpost spokesman Itai Chemo Monday morning as he stared at the rubble of one of the homes.

Instead, late on Sunday night, they saw masses of Border Police nearing the area, and immediately feared the worst.

After a chain of SMS messages, activists, mainly teenagers, raced to the outpost with knapsacks and sleeping bags. In some cases they were driven there from other settlements. In other instances residents of nearby settlements began to hike to the outpost.

But only several dozen had made it onto the hilltop when a young woman saw the Border Police by one of the three endangered homes.

“The police are here,” she began shouting as uniformed men and women with helmets and plastic shields created a single-file circle around each home. Police stood shoulderto- shoulder on the small paved paths.

One commander reminded his men, “remember, keep a poker face. No one can interact with anyone [Migron residents].”

A police spokeswoman said the Border Police had gone to Migron to help the Civil Administration execute a demolition order. She added they were not armed with any dispersal weapons and had only brought defensive items with them.

But a few Migron residents yelled “evil” at them because they had come in the middle of the night to destroy homes.

“Tell me, are you Jewish?” shouted one woman who wore a headscarf and a skirt.

“Are we in Germany?” screamed out another resident in a subtle Holocaust reference.

One young woman simply tried to push her way through the police line, with her arms flailing, yelling “Asses.”

Only residents of the three homes and some neighbors were allowed to enter to help a team of workers provided by the security services, who packed up the belongings.

They stacked sofas, books, tables, chairs and boxes in a helter-skelter fashion on the dry grass outside the structures.

One young teen poked around in the dark to make sure that everything was there.

In some instances, some Migron residents were forcibly removed from the homes, including one man whom Border Policemen carried out by his legs and arms and then dropped on the ground.

One neighbor simply sat outside her caravan on the ground in the dark and cried.

Residents of Migron began phoning politicians hoping they would intervene. One of the residents sat on the side of the road with a laptop coordinating cell phone calls between activists and politicians.

“Has anyone spoke with [Minister] Yuli Edelstein (Likud)?” he asked.

Then the Border Police shut down the streetlights. The sudden blackness quieted the scene.

For a while, in the eerie silence under the bright stars, the only sounds and movements were of people packing. Everyone else watched and waited.

The lights of Ramallah twinkled in the distance. Over the loudspeaker, a Migron resident called out, “God is with us. Stay strong.”

He then recited prayers, particularly lamentations of forgiveness, as large brightly-lit orange cranes with loud engines rolled up to the homes.

The cranes stopped suddenly at 2:30 a.m., when Migron residents, with the help of the Binyamin Citizens Committee, received an emergency injunction from the High Court of Justice until a hearing was held on the matter no later than 1 p.m. that same day.

Initially, the five cranes kept their lights on and their motors running. But after half an hour, they turned them off. The Border Police relaxed and put down their shields as they gathered in small groups to chat and wait.

Suddenly, however, close to 4 a.m., Judge Neal Hendel withdrew the initial injunction that he had issued, following an appeal by the prosecutor’s office.

With that action, all hope for a reprieve died.

Only last week, Migron residents had held a small rally of support at the outpost.

Rally-goers spoke of the need to protect the three homes and the outpost, in light of a decision by the High Court of Justice earlier this summer that the entire outpost was illegally constructed on private Palestinian property and must be removed in March. The decision was in response to a petition by Peace Now.

Outpost residents have claimed that their small hilltop community of 50 families built over a decade ago with state funds could be legalized.

The High Court of Justice has declared that the outpost is illegally built on private Palestinian land. Outpost residents have argued that the property was either abandoned or purchased from Palestinians. Most of it is composed of caravans but there are close to 10 permanent structures.

Three such homes were built in the last year after a 2008 agreement between the state and Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip to relocate the outpost to the nearby settlement of Adam.

Yesh Din petitioned the High Court of Justice against these three homes. In response the state promised to remove them in September, thereby separating the fate of those structures from the rest of the outpost.

Early Monday morning as cranes broke through the walls of the first of the three homes, located near the entry way to the outpost, dozens of teens gathered in a last ditch attempt to save the other two homes located further inside.

On the count of three, they rushed at the police who had their shields up and pushed them back, as they banged their fists on the hard plastic. Activists tried this a number of times with little success as police chased them away.

A few teens threw stones. In others instances, teens and the police scuffled.

As cranes broke through the ceiling of the second home, however, the activists quieted down. As the crane tore a hole in the wall, workers were busy pushing a crib out the window of the third home.

“But they haven’t taken all their stuff out,” cried a neighbor as she held hands with Tammy Guttman, who had lived in the home with her husband and five children.

Police tried to assure her that the cranes would only take down the house after her belongings had been removed.

“But why do they need to break the window frames?” asked the neighbor.

Once the two homes had been reduced to piles of rubble, Migron residents heckled the Border Police with sarcastic comments about their brave actions against women and children.

“You are real heroes,” they said.

As the sun rose, one man sat in the dirt by the rubble with his hands on his head and chanted lamentations of destruction and ruin.

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