Family given 15 minutes to pack before home razed

Nine-months pregnant Miryam Tager describes surprise house demolition by IDF, Border Police.

MIRIAM AND Meir Tager in the Ma’aleh Rehavam outpost 370 (photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
MIRIAM AND Meir Tager in the Ma’aleh Rehavam outpost 370
(photo credit: Tovah Lazaroff)
Security forces gave Miryam Tager 15 minutes to pack up her small home when they knocked on her door in the Ma’aleh Rehavam outpost around 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Hours later she and her husband, Meir Tager, sat on the sofa in their neighbor’s living room and described the surprise raid the IDF, Border Police and civil administration made on their small hilltop community in the Gush Etzion region of the West Bank.
As she spoke, Tager, who is nine-months pregnant, often held her hands on her stomach.
Her two small daughters, ages three and one, ran around the room. From the window, they could see the rubble of the small 36-meter, two-room structure that had been their home for the last year.
The sunny day had an ordinary start, said Meir Tager, who left home on his motorcycle for Jerusalem where he studies technology.
“I sat with the girls and made them breakfast,” Miryam Tager said.
She paused for a moment, and added, “As I am describing this to you, I feel almost as if it happened to someone else, not to me.”
Suddenly, Tager said, she heard a dog barking incessantly. She looked outside, and was surprised to see that security forces and workers had surrounded her home. One of them tried to restrain the dog.
Confused and still in her pajamas, she walked out to ask them what was happening. “We have come to destroy your house,” she recalled them saying.
What struck her as terribly ironic, she said, was that they added, “We are doing this for your security, as if it was a favor they were doing for me.” Unsure of what to do next, Tager walked back into her home and closed the door.
But that did little, because within seconds, they knocked on it and asked to come in. She bought a few seconds reprieve by noting that she needed to get dressed.
“But I was so unnerved, that I pulled a skirt on over my pajamas,” she said, as she looked at the long black cloth.
“They knocked again, and I opened the door,” she said.
The officer said, “You have 15 minutes to pack. Take what is important and leave,” Tager recalled.
She said she wanted to call her husband, but the officer instructed her to pack first. Tager ignored him, and tried to call her husband and her mother.
She said that she was so rattled she couldn’t think of what to pack.
“Take what is important to you,” Tager recalled them saying. “But I thought, everything is dear to me.”
The officers advised her to take small items, such as laptops. She filled a small bag, but did not think of grabbing jewelry or hair clips for the girls.
They workers came in with boxes and removed things from the shelves, Tager said. She placed the girls on the sofa with books and toys.
“I tried to stay calm, so they wouldn’t be upset,” she said.
“They asked me, ‘Why are all these people here? Why are they taking our things?’ I told them, ‘They are just placing them outside,’” she said.
She pleaded with the workers to leave, but they ignored her. Still, she kept talking to them, because she did not know what else to do. One of them filmed the other workers as they took apart her house. Another worker found her jewelry and gave it to her.
Meir Tager said he had just arrived in Jerusalem when his cell phone rang. He recognized his wife’s number, but no one was on the other end.
Instead he could hear a lot of noise and screams, and someone saying, “Take your things.”
He said, “I understood that something was happening, but I did not know what.”
Finally, a neighbor called to tell him the security forces were in the outpost and were taking down nine structures, four of which, including theirs, had families living in them.
Meir Tager raced home, but security forces stopped him near Kfar Eldad and explained that the area was now a closed military zone.
So he drove his motorcycle on a back road through a neighboring Palestinian village. He parked the motorcycle a short distance away and walked to his home, as workers were bringing everything outside.
“We stood there in the bright sun, with no shade,” Miryam Tager said. A nursery school teacher tried to walk to the house to pick up the girls, but security forces stopped her.
“Then the tractor came, and tore the house apart as we watched,” she said.
Both she and her husband said they had understood that the outpost was unauthorized when they moved there, but had been led to believe that this was a technicality that would be legally resolved.
“People told us there was no chance that anything would happen,” he said. “This is the first time something like this has happened here.”
Now, he said, the question is, “To build again, or not.”