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Forces begin demolition of Amona homes amid clashes

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    Last update - 13:47 01/02/2006 Forces begin demolition of Amona homes amid clashes http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/676627.html By Amos Harel, Arnon
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2006
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      Last update - 13:47 01/02/2006

      Forces begin demolition of Amona homes amid clashes
      By Amos Harel, Arnon Regular, Nadav Shragai, and Jonathan Lis

      Security forces began razing several of the nine houses slated for demolition
      Wednesday in the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, where more than 100
      people were injured during fierce clashes between right-wing protesters and
      advancing security forces.

      Young protesters hurled cinder blocks, large stones and buckets of paint at
      the forces, seriously injuring two police officers, as large forces of troops
      moved in to evacuate thousands of demonstrators and demolish nine houses.

      A hospital spokeswoman said that a total of 65 people had been brought to the
      city's two Hadassah hospitals, one of whom was seriously injured. At least 50
      others were treated on site by medics.

      Channel 10 reported that a police officer and a youth were in very serious
      condition. There was no independent corroboration of the report of the youth's

      In light of the severity of the unprecedented clashes and high injury count,
      an additional 1,400 security officials were called in Wednesday afternoon to
      assist in the evacuation.

      Four of the nine houses were evacuated as of noon on Wednesday, and demolition
      had begun on three of them. Opposition on the part of the demonstrators had
      substantially weakened by this time due to police force, the likes of which
      not seen even at the height of last summer's disengagement from the Gaza

      Hundreds of right-wing protesters remained inside and on the roofs of the
      remaining five houses. Police hurdled themselves onto roofs with the help of
      ladders and bulldozers in an attempt to force them down.

      The police officer who was seriously injured was evacuated from the site via
      helicopter. Police sources said he was very seriously injured and had lost
      consciousness after having sustained a serious head injury, but no reports
      were confirmed by medical officials.

      Three far-right members of Knesset, Effi Eitam (National Religious Party),
      Aryeh Eldad and Rabbi Binyamin Elon (both of National Union), were among the
      first to be injured in the clashes, in which at least 15 police officers have
      been injured, most of them lightly.

      Eitam was lightly injured and hospitalized in the trauma wing of Hadassah
      University Medical Center, Ein Karem, in Jerusalem. Eldad appeared to have
      sustained an arm fracture and Elon was lightly injured when forced off of a
      bulldozer on which he had climbed. Both MKs were treated on site.

      Forty-five protesters were arrested by early afternoon Wednesday.

      Wednesday's violence between demonstrators and security officials surpassed
      that seen during last summer's disengagement from the Gaza Strip, with youths
      throwing small boulders at the horses carrying mounted police. Police used
      water canons and batons to restrain the protesters, and officers broke open
      windows of the houses in order the remove the demonstrators packed inside.

      As the security forces approached the houses, a number of people were
      evacuated from the site on stretchers, one of them Eldad, a physician and
      former IDF brigadier general who said his arm appeared to be broken.

      "They are relating to human beings here like they wouldn't relate to Arabs,"
      Eldad told Army Radio while undergoing treatment in an IDF field first aid
      station. "It makes no difference if they are members of Knesset or not. They
      cut open [MK] Effi Eitan's head."

      "They are fighting us, they are killing us," said Amona settlement leader Orit
      Caspi. "The state has declared war on its own citizens," she told the radio.
      "It is impossible to continue to exist in this country."

      Earlier in the day, Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein issued a
      temporary injunction delaying the planned evacuation. Rubinstein cast a
      dissenting "no" vote in the 2-1 High Court decision to give the go-ahead to
      evacuation forces. The demolitions were ordered after the High Court Sunday
      rejected a petition by Amona residents against the demolition.

      Before dawn Wednesday, thousands of soldiers and police officers massed around
      the hilltop where the outpost sits, and scattered clashes broke out between
      security forces and young protesters.

      Settlers smeared tar and oil on the road leading to the outpost as thousands
      of settler youths hurled rocks at police officers. Youths on the rooftops of
      the homes slated for demolition stockpiled stones, glass
      bottles, buckets of cooking oil and paint.

      "We are expecting a high level of violence," said Gidon Mor, a police
      commander at the scene, who was hit in the face by a rock thrown by

      According to Army Radio figures, 3,000 protesters were arrayed in an around
      the site, facing 2,000 soldiers and 3,100 police, including mounted officers,
      riot police, and five water cannon trucks.

      Settlers tried to strike a last-minute deal presented to the court, which
      would have required them to destroy the nine outpost houses themselves, in
      exchange for the Defense Ministry's assurance that it will allow them to
      establish permanent structures in another area of Amona, with legal

      Hundreds of settlers blocked the main bypass road near Ramallah just after
      midnight Wednesday in an effort to halt police convoys en route to Amona.

      Military sources told Haaretz that the evacuation of Amona is expected to cost
      over NIS 5 million.

      In the night before the evacuation, a Palestinian man was beaten and several
      cars were trashed by settlers near the village of Za'atra, not far from the
      settlement of Tapuah.

      Protesters also slashed tires and broke windows of vehicles transporting TV
      crews which came to cover the impending evacuation.

      In a separate incident, right-wing activists entered the village of Ein Yabrud
      and threw stones at Palestinian cars.

      Some 100 settlers also blocked the road south of the Hawara roadblock near the
      town of Nablus. They also punctured the tires and broke the mirror of an
      Israel Defense Forces patrol jeep.

      The overall military commander of the West Bank has voiced concern that
      violence during the evacuation of Amona could exceed that faced by evacuation
      forces during last summer's volatile disengagement from the Gaza Strip.
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