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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Like thieves in the night: Government destroys buildings violating 'settlement freeze'

In the dead of night on Monday night, Israeli security forces dismantled structures in at least three Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria that had been built in violation of the 'settlement freeze.' And there's a fight shaping up over how many classrooms the government is going to allow to be built for the 2010-11 school year.
Israeli security forces on Tuesday dismantled a caravan set up in the West Bank settlement of Elon Moreh, despite the government's declaration last year of a 10-month construction freeze.

This was the first time a structure built to contravene the settlement freeze has been razed.


Security forces arrived before dawn on Tuesday and dismantled the caravan. They also destroyed the foundations of structures in the Kochav Yaakov and Kochav Hashahar settlements which were built in contradiction of the freeze order.

The security forces operated undisturbed, despite the expectation that the dismantling would lead to renewed protests against the freeze.

In response to actions carried out by the security forces, a committee of residents from the northern West Bank settlements released a statement saying: "The activities over recent days prove that [Defense Minister Ehud] Barak and Netanyahu understand that the resistance of the residents will not allow them to implement the freeze unless they sneak up like thieves in the night. That is the only time to fight wars, to disrupt actions being taken out against terror organizations."


According to Ministry of Education projections, Jewish students in the West Bank will need 116 new classrooms when the school year starts in September 2010 if schools are to cope with the growing settler population.

Instead the defense ministry will allow only 28, to be built to strict guidelines, which settlers say are a result of commitments made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak to the United States.

News of the restrictions has reinflamed tensions between the settler movement and Barak's ministry, just as the two sides seemed to be reaching an accommodation. In the past few days settler leaders have begun lobbying Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intensively in an attempt to overturn the decision.
Each classroom serves 40 students. Disgraceful.


Get a load of how the destruction of the caravan (mobile home) in Elon Moreh was carried out.
One resident recounted how it happened:

“Two policemen arrived at the guard post at the entrance to the community at 3 a.m., presenting themselves as having come to conduct a routine check of how the community is protected. They were welcomed in, and received explanations as to how security is carried out. They then asked the guard to give them his radio transmitter so they could check it – and suddenly announced that it was confiscated and that he was being detained. He was thus unable to use it to raise an alarm in the town about the impending arrival of the large special-unit Yassam forces that came very shortly afterwards. A large bulldozer/tractor was also brought in – once again, with no way for the guard to inform his neighbors.”

The caravan, a mobile home without wheels, was planned to house a large family, residents said.

“The forces came in like thieves in the night and cleared the way to destroying a caravan,” town spokesman and founder Benny Katzover told Israel National News, “while neutralizing the town’s security at the same time. For a half-hour, Elon Moreh was open to terrorist infiltration... But even worse was that the force endangered the residents and themselves, because the security coordinator called the guard and received no answer. He was about to alert the town’s emergency force, which could easily have opened fire on the ‘infiltrators.’ Fortunately, he came out and saw that it was an army force before anything dangerous actually developed.”
That ought to do wonders the next time the IDF needs to cooperate with a guard in a Jewish town about something.


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