(photo credit: Channel 2)
Security forces and right-wing protesters clashed violently on Wednesday as the evacuation of the Amona outpost in the West Bank was completed. Soldiers and policemen razed all nine of the structures after spending over three hours emptying them of protestors.
At least 219 people were wounded in violent clashes, including MKs Aryeh Eldad and Efi Eitam. Eldad broke his arm but remained on the scene; Eitam was taken to the hospital. Hours later, 67 people remained hospitalized, one in serious condition, four in moderate condition and the rest lightly injured.
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Magen David Adom set up a field infirmary and 162 people were evacuated. Of the wounded, one policeman was listed in serious condition, nine were moderately wounded, and 152 were lightly wounded.
The policeman, who was critically wounded after he was hit by a cement block, was taken, unconscious, to Hadassah hospital. Another officer was seriously wounded after being stabbed in the stomach. His condition improved to moderate after he was airlifted to Hadassah Ein Karem in Jerusalem. At least 48 other policemen were lightly wounded. They were being evacuated by air and ambulance.
Police arrested 43 people at the scene and took them to Ma'asiyahu prison in Ramle. The remands for four of the detainees were extended almost immediately. Police had 24 hours to press charges against the rest of the rioters.
Throughout the day, sympathy protests were held throughout the country.
As forces in Amona encountered heavy resistance, a second call for reinforcements was made, with Police Inspector-General Moshe Karadi ordering an additional 1,400 policemen to join the 2,800 already present. Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra said he hoped that the extra forces would not be needed. Earlier, over 1,000 personnel made their way to the scene at a moment's notice.
Hadassah's Mt. Scopus Hospital received 67 of the lightly wounded evacuees. The Ein Karem Hospital received 61 of the wounded including the seriously injured policeman and seven others who were moderately wounded. 51 of the injured were brought to the capital's Sha'arei Tzedek Hospital, and 47 to Bikur Holim.
A meeting during the clashes between police and army commanders at the outpost and Yesha Council heads failed to reach a compromise agreement.
Police managed to break through the thousands of activists surrounding the structures and enter some of the buildings. They climbed ladders to the rooftops as well. Bulldozers were brought in to aid the process.
Lines of police and lines of activists faced off at the edge of the embankment as protestors threw tomatoes and rocks at the police from rooftops. They also set fire to the tires on top of buildings. They hurled light bulbs filled with paint as well.
As soon as the directive to go ahead with the demolition was delivered, the settler leaders began calling to protestors over loudspeakers to rush to the nine houses. The youths climbed on the roofs of the houses and entered the buildings, as others encircled the structures.
Other protestors were pelting security forces with stones to try to stop them from advancing. Mounted police were pushing the activists off of the embankment at the edge of the housing complex as they tried to break through a barrier of garbage cans set up at the perimeter.
Leaders were urging protestors to refrain from violence, as "more could be achieved through nonviolence than throwing stones."
They also announced the telephone number for legal advice in case people were arrested. They told protestors that were they to be arrested, they should remain silent, aside from providing their names and ID numbers.
The evacuation became possible after the High Court of Justice, in a 2-1 vote earlier in the morning, rejected a petition by the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha) to allow the settlers to move the nine disputed buildings in Amona by themselves.
The petitioners' representative, attorney David Rotem, asked the court to allow the settlers to saw through the structures above their foundations and move the buildings, intact, to the nearby settlement of Ofra.
Rotem said that in a meeting held the previous day between Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz and former MK Hanan Porat, Mazuz had told Porat that the offer was "reasonable."
However, the state's representative, attorney Osnat Mandel, denied that Mazuz had expressed support for the proposal. Mazuz contacted Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who told him that the army was against the plan.
A total of around 6,000 policemen and soldiers were mobilized to the Amona area to take part in the planned evacuation. As a precautionary measure, police raised the national level of alert to 4 - one step below the highest.
In the early hours on Wednesday morning, youth scrambled to take up pre-assigned positions in the houses, and loudspeakers instructed all those who had not yet been posted to amass in the main road. The houses had been previously divided between girls and boys in order to prevent inappropriate intermingling between the genders.
A series of boulder blockades had been posted at intervals on the road ascending the hill to Amona. The largest roadblock was flying an Israeli flag, and in advance of the arrival of the main body of security forces expected in the early morning hours, protesters had poured oil down the road and ignited a bush.
A few hundred protesters sat in the road below the roadblock, this group also separated between men and women.
Overnight, a small group of troops fanned out along the hillside. One soldier was reported lightly wounded by a glue-filled bottle thrown at him by a protester.
Dan Izenberg contributed to this report
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