In the week leading up to the Jewish holiday of love and matchmaking — Tu B’Av — Israelis in Samaria are battling the IDF and old nightmares, returned.
Rows of rigid military police standing shoulder to shoulder with their eyes averted, massive plexiglass riot shields ready at their feet. Female Border Guard Police officers in groups of three, wearing massive equipment and huge riot helmuts gently lifting a praying, weeping woman protester who is overcome with grief as she remembers another evacuation, and thousands of other homeless Jews in Israel.
To the Beit El supporters, who included former residents of the demolish communities of Gush Katif and northern Samaria, this week’s eviction of protesters at the two Draynoff buildings felt horrendously familiar.
Hundreds of Judea and Samaria residents flocked to the aid of their fellow Jews in the community of Beit El, where Israel’s High Court on Wednesday upheld a demolition order for two half-finished apartment houses.
The destruction was to be carried out by Thursday, pre-empting the original order, scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 2. But by 12 noon Wednesday, the bulldozers had already torn out the heart of an Israeli flag painted on to the side of one of the buildings.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked has already said the structures can be rebuilt since land permits were secured after their construction. But that’s not really the point.
Was the praying, weeping woman going to be homeless that day? Was the man in his prayer shawl threatened, intensely shaking his fist while beseeching the Creator to intervene? No.
But stark fear haunts nearly every resident of Judea and Samaria as they intently watch events at Beit El.
The 2005 Disengagement of Gaza began much the same way, they say, and no one is willing to repeat that massive error.
Ten years later nearly to the day, this week, there remain even now families who are still homeless, who live in “temporary” caravillas in a trailer park in Nitzan.
The government “reparation” money ran out long before Israel made good on its promise to provide them with new land to replace that which was wrested from them — in many cases, land with which they made their living as independent business owners. Meanwhile, they were forced by their banks to continue paying off mortgages on the homes that were demolished in an expulsion over which they had no choice, using the funds that had been earmarked for purchasing new homes or starting new livelihoods.
Marriages and families were crushed with the communities in that destruction. Major depressions and suicides led to lives being snuffed out along with Israel’s presence in Gaza.
Four communities in northern Samaria were destroyed as well, among them the small town of Sa-Nur.
Now former residents of that community have decided they have seen enough, and this week stated their intention to return and rebuild their town.
Some 20 families along with 200 other supporters from around the country flocked to the site two days ago, as events heated up in Beit El, and settled in for the duration; they are now working together to prepare the town for re-habitation.
The families sent a letter to the prime minister and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Tuesday, urging them to refrain from another expulsion.
“IDF soldiers are our beloved brothers, flesh of our flesh. We demand not to repeat the trauma of the expulsion, and not to force IDF soldiers to expel us again from our homes,” they wrote. “Placing the soldiers against their settler brothers is the addition of sin to a crime. Even if the government wants to expel Jews from their homes and their land, that should be done by police officers, and not by soldiers and Border Patrol soldiers who give the best of their years for the security of Israel.”
The tensions could tear apart the fragile 61-member coalition cobbled together by Likud Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
It has certainly re-traumatized thousands of Israeli Jews who desperately trying to rebuild their lives productively in Samaria — one of the most beautiful areas of the Land of Israel.
Hana Levi Julian