Will Amona be the new Masada?

Ultimately, the people of Amona have fallen victim not only to the government, but also to their own pride.

December 16, 2016 07:51
2 minute read.

Amona resident on importance of settlements 'we're not occupying'

Amona resident on importance of settlements 'we're not occupying'


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Rabbi Avi Gisser of Ofra sharply attacked the residents of the nearby Amona outpost for rejecting a deal they were offered to move elsewhere on their hilltop and cooperate with the government on their evacuation.

Gisser went as far as to compare them to the people of Masada in the year 73 CE, who entrenched themselves in a fortress for an unwinnable battle against Rome. He noted that, like the people of Masada, Amona residents were acting out of desperation rather than following the path of the Torah.

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The comparison to the fanatical messianism of Masada is obviously going way too far, because historical records indicate that there were either few or no Jewish survivors from the fortress. One accounting even said they all committed suicide before the Romans breached their defenses.

But when Amona was first evacuated in 2006, some 200 people were injured, including 80 members of the security forces and then-MKs Arye Eldad and Effi Eitam.

And that was when Amona had only nine homes. Now it has 40.

Residents have talked about the need to have graphic images come from the evacuation in order to deter the government from carrying out further evacuations elsewhere in Judea and Samaria.

That did indeed happen following the evacuation in 2006. But that was when Ehud Olmert was prime minister. Now there is a right-wing government that is in the process of passing legislation that would legalize 4,000 homes that, like Amona, were built on land that was privately owned by Palestinians, while offering the owners compensation.

It is possible that violence could have the opposite effect of what the Amona residents want. If members of the security forces are harmed, there would be no sympathy for them. There would only be disgust.

The Amona residents have already lost the support of every MK in the Knesset, including the most right-wing MK, Bezalel Smotrich, whose previous job was fighting against illegal Palestinian and Beduin construction.

Now they have also lost Gisser, who is the rabbi of Ofra, the community where most of them will apparently be forced to move.

The deal they were offered was far from perfect. It did not offer solutions for enough Amona residents, and it relied on hopes that the High Court would still intervene.

But Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett said it was the best deal they were going to get, and government cooperation could have made a tough situation somewhat easier.

Ultimately, the people of Amona have fallen victim not only to the government, but also to their own pride. As Masada proved, even a strong fortress can be taken down.

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