(photo credit: ELIYAHU KAMISHER)
The single-lane road that leads to Amona was flooded on Thursday with teenagers, who knocked on passing cars asking for a ride to the hilltop outpost that is slated for demolition by December 25. Girls with flowing patterned dresses and boys with large colorful crocheted kippot hiked up the steep hill as strong winds blew their sidelocks.
“We are here to protect the land,” said one 17-year-old who was hiking up the mountain and declined to be named, “to protect it from the government that wants to destroy it.”
The outpost faces a looming evacuation, after the community voted 58-20 Wednesday night against a proposal to peacefully resettle the families on a nearby plot of land. Hundreds of people are descending upon the 40-family Amona outpost to protest – and possibly fight – any evacuation effort.
Hundreds of teenagers that descended upon Amona to block any potential evacuation effort, 15.12.16 (credit Eliyahu Kamisher)
“It was clear to me to be against the deal proposed by [Naftali] Bennett,” said Amona resident Amichai Katz, 28, while feeding his one-year-old daughter pasta. “We agree that if they build the homes for every family and we see them with our own eyes we will move. But we are not moving off the mountain. And they need to be good homes, not ghettos.”
The proposal pushed by Bayit Yehudi leader Bennett and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to move the outpost to an adjacent hilltop that is considered “absentee;” that is, the Palestinian owners are unknown. Amona residents said the proposal relocates only 12 of the approximately 40 families on the hill. The current outpost was built illegally in 1995 on privately owned Palestinian land on the rocky hilltop overlooking the settlement of Ofra.
Katz’s trailer home, like many of Amona’s buildings, functions as a makeshift rest-stop for Amona activists, who smoked hookahs, sipped tea, played guitar, and prayed on Thursday.
“I love this community,” remarked Katz, who said he plans to resist passively if an evacuation occurs. “We don’t want violence. But they will need to take us.”
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Amona spokesman Avichai Boaron called for “passive resistance” to any evacuation. “We will resist in a democratic way,” Boaron told The Jerusalem Post
, adding that he would not attack any authorities. However, he said, he would not go easily. “This is our home, the place where we raise our children and got married,” he said.
Yet with hundreds of rowdy teenagers and graffiti of “there will be war over Amona,” scrawled on a building in the outpost, a passive ending to the Amona saga is not ensured. Violent clashes already occurred at the outpost in 2006 when security forces carried out a High Court of Justice ruling demolishing nine homes.
“This is the Land of Israel. It was given by God. We don’t do business with it,” said Yisrael Blonder, 60, from the West Bank settlement of Nofim, who was visiting the outpost. “You need to fight, to leave your soul in the place. To say I will only leave if you force me.”
“We don’t know what will come, but I am not worried,” said Emuna Abel, 27, a resident of Amona. “We are returning to the land. We are still making history. We want the government to say that this is our land – the whole territory,” she said, while walking her young daughter through the muddy road.
The Amona synagogue has also been turned into an activist encampment, where boys sought refuge from the cold and huddled around desks, while rabbis spoke of settling the West Bank as part of messianic destiny. Outside the synagogue boys jostled for cigarettes and drank instant coffee.
“If they evacuate, I’ll be here,” said one teenager to his friend. “Yes, I’ll probably be here, too,” the other responded.