The West Bank Jewish settlement of Ofra is photographed as seen from the former Jewish settler outpost of Amona..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Settler leaders and the heads of the Ofra settlement on Sunday threatened to hold a hunger strike outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office if the Knesset fails to pass the settlement regulation bill.
Sunday evening, thousands of protesters rallied in Ofra demanding that the government approve the bill, which would retroactively legalize settler homes on private Palestinian property.
It’s an issue that is personal to their community, which has hundreds of these homes, nine of which are slated for demolition next month in accordance with a High Court of Justice decision.
Avi Ro’eh, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea and Samaria, likened the court-ordered demolitions to the experience of Jews in the Diaspora who were forced out of their homes.
These are events, he said, for which one should recite the same traditional words as are uttered when one hears of a death, Baruch dayan haemet
(Blessed is the true Judge).
“The act of throwing Jews out of their homes. This is a Diaspora story. It goes along with destruction, fire and deportation. And this is happening here, in the Land of Israel,” Ro’eh said to the protesters, who filled the street next to the nine homes.
He also remarked that perhaps it is a sign that the people in the settlements had not loved each other enough.
Ro’eh promised that the settlement movement would rise up out of the dust of the demolitions, both the pending ones in Ofra and the destruction of the nearby Amona outpost last week. “We will persevere and build new communities everywhere in the Land of Israel,” he said.
Rabbi Haim Druckman said this type of destruction is not justice. “This only benefits those who want us to return to Europe,” he warned.
The rally ended with the blowing of the shofar and the recitation of the national anthem, “Hatikva
The nine homes were originally scheduled for demolition on February 8. Residents asked the court for a three-month delay, until their new homes were ready, but on Sunday the judges gave them only until March 5.
Some of the families have already begun to pack and move, but plan to return on March 5 to protest the demolition. They said that the court is forcing them to move twice for no reason, when it could have easily given them more time to leave properly.