The tumultuous events at Amona on Wednesday began early in the morning, when the High Court of Justice cancelled an interim injunction preventing the security forces from dismantling the nine illegal houses.
The request for the temporary injunction was submitted by the Binyamin Regional Council and the Bar Amana building company, which promised to remove the houses themselves and move them across the road to Ofra while the injunction was in force.
Attorney David Rotem, who represented the petitioners, told a panel of three justices that his clients wanted a peaceful resolution of the dispute, like the one the army and the settlers had found for the illegally occupied houses in the Hebron wholesale market.
Osnat Mandel, head of the High Court section of the State Attorney's Office, told the court it was too late for compromise. "There are 7,000 security forces deployed at Amona," she said. "Fifteen of them have already been injured in clashes with the protesters, including one who was hit by a rock and seriously hurt. The fight is already going on... The moment of truth has arrived."
Justices Ayala Procaccia and Edna Arbel rejected the petition and cancelled the interim injunction. Justice Elyakim Rubinstein voted to extend the interim injunction for seven days, to give the settlers time to remove the houses themselves.
"There is no basis in law or moral or public justification to order the state to stop the implementation of the demolition orders at this stage and give the petitioners more time to remove the buildings themselves," wrote Procaccia. "The time for the occupants of the buildings in Amona to consider their actions and propose alternatives to the demolition orders is over.
"Over the years and over the past months, the settlers have received many extensions and opportunities to remove the buildings themselves. They did not take advantage of them. Instead, they stretched the boundaries of law enforcement to the very limits of endurance."
The story of the last-minute petition began on Tuesday, when former MK Hanan Porat asked to see Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz, telling him that he had a new proposal which would prevent violence and bloodshed in Amona.
The meeting took place on Tuesday evening. Porat presented the proposal that later became the subject of the petition. He told the court that Mazuz said the proposal was "reasonable," a claim hotly denied by Mandel. After receiving clarifications from Porat and settlement leaders, Mazuz told Porat he would bring the matter to Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
According to Porat, Mazuz was "crestfallen" when he informed him that Olmert had rejected the proposal, telling him that the army opposed it.
Speaking with pathos, Porat strongly indicated that Mazuz had favored the proposal. He said he told Mazuz that since he was the government's legal adviser, he should overrule Olmert.
After failing to reach an agreement with the government, the petitioners asked Rotem to prepare the petition. He did so in handwriting on a yellow legal pad, and presented it to Rubinstein at 4 a.m. Rubinstein issued the interim injunction which last five hours.
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