'We want war,' protesters chant

A "civil war started here," declared Danya, 14, as she sat on the ground Wednesday afternoon.

amona 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 2)
amona 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 2)
A "civil war started here," declared Danya, 14, as she sat on the ground Wednesday afternoon watching border policemen push activist teens down a dirt incline, at the tail end of a five-hour failed battle to save nine empty homes on the Amona outpost from destruction by security forces. She and her friend Oria, 14, who traveled three hours from the north of the country to block security forces with their bodies, considered themselves lucky not to have been among the more than 200 activists injured by border policemen during the clashes. Wednesday's clash bore little resemblance to the mostly peaceful evacuation of Gaza over the summer, where the operative slogan had been, "We will win with love." The tactic here was different, said Danya. "We didn't hug them [security forces]," she added. She also did not believe right-wing teens would deviate in their tactics should the government choose to demolish any other structures or relinquish land in the territories. The only way to avert further civil violence was to recognize the right of Jews to the territories, she said. The sight of security forces in riot gear with their batons swinging was a marked contrast from Gaza, where border policemen at times hugged the evacuees as they helped them leave, and settlers greeted them with songs and food. While the hundreds of teens posted did at times sing and dance inside the empty homes, those outside on the rooftops stood behind barbed wire and burning tires. They tossed stones, tomatoes and paint bombs at the security forces gathered below. The Border Police in turn, had clubs and riot gear out. They abruptly and forcibly pushed and carried teens out of the homes, rather than engaging in long conversations with them. But while the world saw a successful pullout from Gaza, right-wing teens believed the peaceful protests used there failed. They believed the border policemen were overly sensitive during that operation. Danya said they were angry over the pullout and wanted to take a stand on their principles of defending the Land of Israel in God's name. Activist Achinom, 15, who didn't believe the security forces had ever treated right-wing activists well, said, "I knew what would happen." The afternoon's violence, the teen said, only made her more determined to push forward with the struggle. In rejecting peaceful non-violent methods and in believing that rock-throwing was justified, many of the more than 2,000 teens who gathered in Amona over the last few days were at odds with the protest's organizers, the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. A number of them were particularly upset that the council tried to broker a compromise that would have allowed the homes to be moved to Ofra and would have sent the teens away without a fight. At 5 a.m., upon hearing such a deal might be possible, dozens of activists gathered around veteran settler leader Pinhas Wallerstein and called him the "devil" while chanting "We want war, we want war." Wallerstein, who tried convincing the activists that a compromise was better than a fight, was outnumbered and eventually escaped to the Amona secretariat offices. MK Arye Eldad (National Union) said that when border policemen first entered Amona early in the morning, he had gotten in the middle of a potential fight between the security forces and the activist teens. "I tried to push the kids back," said Eldad. But instead of being grateful that he was preventing a fight, they were annoyed. "I was kicked by the kids," he said. Outside of the Amona secretariat on Wednesday morning, teen activists ate pickles and bread with chocolate spread and debated the merits of a compromise. A number of young women said they were angry that their leaders had called them there, only to try and back away from a fight. "Who will come here to fight to be a puppet?" asked one young woman. "We didn't come here to hold a sign," she added. If Wallerstein wanted them to back down, than perhaps he should go, the woman said. One young man who spoke in Wallersteins and the council's defense said it was the council that had risked their money to build the homes. "We're not fighting over the homes, we're fighting over Israel," the young woman said. "Sharon also built homes in the territories," she added. Not everyone believed that violence would help in the struggle for the territories. Two 18-year old teens, Yaakov and Yoel, were excited to take a non-violent civil disobedience stand in defense of their principles. But standing at the entryway to Amona early Wednesday morning, their first encounter with the security forces convinced them that the border policemen "were looking for a fight," Yaakov said. "There was no way for the two sides to talk to each other and they were both looking to go crazy," he added. So when they had seen that all attempts to broker a compromise had failed, they left the site and headed back to their yeshiva. Wallerstein, who until Wednesday's violence had worried the council was losing control over the teens, said in retrospect that any previous fears had paled in comparison to his concerns over the "excessive" violence used by the security forces. Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.