Angry Psagot residents mobilize to confront inspectors

Angry Psagot residents m

settlement freeze protest 248.88 AP (photo credit: )
settlement freeze protest 248.88 AP
(photo credit: )
There was anger on two fronts in the Binyamin-area settlement of Psagot on Wednesday, as news that the IDF was pulling a company of reserve soldiers out of the area came just after security forces and inspectors from the civil administration arrived to enforce the 10-month moratorium on settlement construction. A Psagot resident who asked to remain anonymous told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday evening that security forces had been seen approaching the area just before noon, and that phone calls and text messages had gone out to local residents to "greet the inspectors - without violence, but in protest of the freeze." "The anger we feel over the freeze is only getting stronger," he said. "And we're making our voices heard." Indeed, throughout the winding roads and hillsides of the Binyamin region, banners bearing the slogan "No Entry for Bibi's Freeze Inspectors" could be seen blowing in the wind, along with posters announcing a large Wednesday night rally in the capital to protest the ongoing moratorium. According to the Psagot resident, however, locals who did mobilize on Wednesday to greet the convoy of inspectors and security forces were surprised to see them drive around the settlement briefly and then leave - without delivering orders to enforce the freeze. "They just drove around for a while, and then they were gone," he said. "No orders were delivered." Nonetheless, the resident said it was important for people living in Judea and Samaria to "make a stand" when the inspectors came into their communities. "I'm not talking about engaging in violence," he said. "But many people are under the impression that the freeze has just started - that's not true. There's been a de facto freeze on construction projects in Judea and Samaria for the last five or six years." In that time, the resident said, "only small, minor construction projects were authorized to move forward, and now the government has taken it up a notch - I'm not even allowed to build a front porch onto my house." In light of that, he explained, the time had come to engage in protests, as residents felt that this was the final straw. "If we don't make our voices heard now, they never will be," he said. Later on Wednesday, the IDF's Binyamin Brigade commander, Col. Aviv Reshef, announced that a company of reserve soldiers stationed in the area would be leaving in a week and that it wouldn't be replaced. Military sources said that the move was part of changes in the deployment of forces in the region and that Psagot would continue to be protected by the IDF. Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.