Homesh activists: Police hit protesters, ruined evidence

Woman recounts efforts to return to site of family's destroyed home.

jp.services1 (photo credit: )
(photo credit: )
Under the cloak of darkness, evading both police and Palestinians, Menorah Hazani and her husband, carrying their 10-month-old baby, walked for six hours to reach the site of their destroyed home in the former Samaria settlement of Homesh. They slept on the cold ground. Then police evacuated them on Monday morning, on the second day of a demonstration by right-wing activist trying to resettle the area. For more then 48 hours, the activists climbed the hill only to be carted off by police. On Monday night, as she spoke with The Jerusalem Post, Hazani said that new groups were gearing up to trek to the site. The IDF and the Border Police had declared the march illegal and deployed throughout the area to stop the protesters. As she walked, Hazani said, the area was filled with lights from the security forces' jeeps. Her family was in a group of 200 that then joined with another group. Most of the trip was taken off the road to avoid detection. Only at the very end was it safe to make noise; they burst into song, Hazani said. Those who were strong enough carried bricks to rebuild the synagogue, she said. In the morning people prayed and put the cement blocks in place. Then the border policemen arrived. Many demonstrators fled into the hills to avoid arrest, she said. Hazani and others alleged the police hit the protesters and in some cases grabbed digital cameras and removed the memory cards to eliminate evidence of their deeds. "They [police] were violent and hit the young women who were there," Hazani said. When security forces surrounded the protesters, Hazani said, they forced them into over-crowded all-terrain buses and dropped them off at random West Bank locations. Nevertheless, the violence, Hazani said, was not as bad as the clashes between settlement activists and security forces in February 2006, when the state destroyed nine empty homes at the Amona outpost in Samaria. But Monday's shoving and hitting were unnecessary, Hazani said. Activists said that one person had to be treated at a hospital; they set up a hot line for protesters to report abuses by the security forces. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said around 350 activists had entered the area, and that 12 were arrested and held for questioning. No one was hurt, he said. It was the fourth time Hazani has returned to the site since it was evacuated in August 2005. The Hazani family had lived there for four years. They returned on Hanukka, Pessah and Independence Day, visiting the footprint of their former home. It's hard to see it, said Hazani, who now lives in a caravan in nearby Shavei Shomron with her husband and three small children. "We can see Homesh from our home, and we are waiting to return," she said. AP contributed to this report.