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.
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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
Activists had warned of stiff resistance should the state make
good on its pledge to destroy the unauthorized homes this month.
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
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
“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.
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].”
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.
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
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
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.
simply sat outside her caravan on the ground in the dark and
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.
anyone spoke with [Minister] Yuli Edelstein (Likud)?” he asked.
Border Police shut down the streetlights. The sudden blackness quieted the
For a while, in the eerie silence under the bright stars, the only
sounds and movements were of people packing. Everyone else watched and
The lights of Ramallah twinkled in the distance. Over the
loudspeaker, a Migron resident called out, “God is with us. Stay
He then recited prayers, particularly lamentations of
forgiveness, as large brightly-lit orange cranes with loud engines rolled up to
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.
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
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
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
“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
“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.