On Tuesday afternoon, clashes resumed in the village of Esh Kodesh, after Israeli Border Police permitted nearby Arabs to plow the land between the settlements of Esh Kodesh and Achiah, Hakol Hayehudi reported.
Named after the Piaseczna Rebbe, the renowned spiritual leader of many Chassidim in Auschwitz, Esh Kodesh is a 22-family village overlooking the Jordan Valley (2400 ft above sea level), some 25 miles north-east of Jerusalem. Its neighbor Achiah is another 22-family village.
The Esh Kodesh residents have argued that it shouldn’t take dozens of Arabs to plow one field – one tractor could do the job quite proficiently. Also, seeing as it is well past the plowing and sowing season, they view the “plowing” as nothing more than sheer provocation on the part of their Arab neighbors, and a clear threat to the security of their village.
Residents of the community along with many supporters, who have endured severe clashes with the police earlier in the day, returned en masse to the disputed area and tried to prevent the plowing with their bodies. As usual, the Jewish locals were treated brutally by the border cops, who fired tear gas and stun grenades directly into the group of Jewish civilians, which included women, children and babies.
A group of IDF reservists who had been ordered to the area to secure the plowing Arabs, ended up defending the Jewish civilians from the cops.
“A Druze Border Police officer named Yusuf commanded the event and totally freaked out,” said a resident of Esh Kodesh to Hakol Hayehudi. “He fired tear gas canisters into a group of women and children and used severe violence. At some point a large group of reserve soldiers arrived and once they saw what was happening, they started shouting at the Border Police: ‘Are you crazy? Are you screwed in the brain?’ and demanded that they stop firing on children.”
According to the residents, the police officers themselves then started to debate their own conduct. “The soldiers shouted at them: ‘We are one nation,’ and ‘Look who you’re shooting at,’ and more talk like that, and they became confused and started arguing among themselves.”
One resident related that the debate between the soldiers and the border cops grew louder and turned into mutual cursing. “At some point, the Border Police just became too annoyed at the soldiers and told them: Let’s see you get by here by yourselves, climbed into their jeeps and drove off,” he said.
The Arabs, who had only managed to plow a few meters, saw that they were deserted by their security guards and began to flee. “Once they no longer had the backing of this Druze officer, the Arabs simply turned around and drove quickly away,” said one resident.
In earlier incidents, four Jews were arrested in clashes in the area. An Esh Kodesh resident was arrested by border policemen in the most brutal and violent manner, and later a resident of Givat Gulat Zion was arrested after being asked to present an ID card by police detectives who positioned road barriers separating the settlements of Gush Shilo. Two boys were also arrested, one because the cops claimed he was wanted for questioning, and the other after he refused to show his ID card. Both were released after a few hours, according to the Honenu legal aid society.
During the clashes Jews shattered the windows of a car owned by an Arab who was driving on the country road connecting the villages of Kotzra and Jalud. The driver was sprayed with pepper gas and sustained injuries from stones thrown at him. He was evacuated for medical treatment. The Arabs of Jalud also complained that some Jews had cut down a number of olive trees near their village.
The IDF informed the Jewish residents that the Arab plowing of the fields near their community will continue despite their protests. The residents, for their part, are preparing additional days of clashes and call upon all those who care about the village’s security to come to the area and help prevent the plowing.
About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.
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