Summary of Incident:
Saturday afternoon was a sunny, pleasant day, so we decided to take a Shabbat walk outside the settlement to show the children how everything is flowering. We went out, four friends, with our small daughters (four-six years old). We headed towards the copse bordering the settlement where there is an observation point onto the desert.
While still in the settlement, we noticed a group of people sitting on a hill inside the boundaries of the settlement, but they seemed to be rather out of place (they were not wearing white shirts). We continued our walk and arrived at the observation point. Opposite us, in the wadi, we saw shepherds with their flock. The little girls waved hello, and we noticed that the members of the group were approaching the flock and joining the shepherds, taking pictures of us with their video cameras. The shepherds turned east, moving away with their whole flock, the small group following them.
When we finally decided that we had stayed long enough, and turned to go back to the settlement, we suddenly noticed that the strange group was following us, with quick steps, as we walked back to the residential area of the settlement. We immediately understood that they were leftist activists who evidently planned to create a provocation throughout the settlement. Two of our friends approached them and requested that they not enter the settlement, even emphasizing that it was private property. The members of the group responded by shouting at them “Stop standing in our way”, and that the place was public area, and in general it was conquered land, and therefore it was their right to do whatever they wanted within the settlement, and if they wanted to enter, no one had the authority to intervene. They quickly marched towards the settlement, and our two friends accompanied them, explaining again and again that entering the settlement was a breach of the law. Our friends repeatedly appealed to them that they not create a provocation because there were guests who had come for the Shabbat Bar Mitzvah of one of the boys in the settlement, and that the commotion would upset the tranquility of the residents. I, and my friends, preferred not to approach them at all in order not to scare the little girls who never stopped asking questions. Why did they want to go into the settlement? What had we done to them?
Since I am a member of emergency squad of the settlement, I carry a two-way radio to ensure constant contact between members of the emergency squad. I contacted the Chief security officer of the settlement and informed him that leftist activists had infiltrated the settlement. We continued on our way, believing that this would put an end to the incident. A few minutes later, I got a summons from the Chief security officer of the settlement Chief security officer on the two-way radio calling all members of emergency squad of the settlement to start moving towards the football field. The noise in the background sounded like a pursuit or a confrontation of some kind. We arrived at the football field, where, at that very same time, an assembly of the Bnei Akiva youth movement was taking place. All the children of the settlement were either on the field or close by. I ran into the field, and saw a skinny, mustached activist, apparently the leader of the group. Later on, it transpired that this was Dr. Amiel Vardi, a history lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. We discovered this because the photographer, the Chief security officer daughter, was one of Dr Vardi’s students at the university. 5 activists, some of whom were not even Israelis, accompanied Dr. Vardi.
One of the activists ignored our requests to join the group, and kept running in the opposite direction towards the place where the children of the settlement had gathered. A member of the emergency squad was forced to block him repeatedly, and, obeying the settlement’s Chief security officer’s order, he accompanied him back to his friends who stood where they had been requested to wait. He repeated this behavior again and again, and each time the members of emergency squad simply returned him to his friends. No violence was used against him except for holding him and accompanying him back to the members of the group.
Accusations that the residents of the settlement spit at or struck the activists are total lies! Members of the emergency squad only had contact with the activists. There was no attempt to restrain them personally but rather the goal was to assemble them in one place and block their path to the residents of the settlement.
The leftist described above viciously cursed, in Hebrew and French, the soldiers standing there, as well as the chairman of the secretariat, who arrived and remained in contact with the police and the security forces he had summoned to the settlement. 3 police patrol cars arrived, the security officer of the Judea and Shomron Council, the deputy commander of the brigade, the military sector patrol and an additional IDF force.
The police officer took control of the confrontation, and informed the secretariat chairman that he would like to move the activists outside the gates of the settlement and then ascertain the circumstances of the incident. The secretariat chairman insisted that he arrest the activists, charge them with trespassing (as he had been instructed to do by the settlement’s attorney, who had been contacted in the course of the incident), and open an investigation against them on the charge of rampaging within the area of the settlement, insubordination, refusal to obey the orders of the Chief security officer of the settlement, the authority charged with the security of the settlement, and illegal gathering. The police officer unhesitatingly refused. The secretariat chairman ordered the residents of the settlement to block the exit from the settlement until the activists were arrested.
In response, the police officer announced, through the public address system, that the gathering of the residents of the settlement was illegal and he planned to take measures to scatter them, including the use of force! (in other words, he was going to summon the police Special Patrol Unit patrol cars to scatter the people).
This whole time, the leftists sat inside the patrol car, free to do anything they wanted, so they contacted a mobile photography vehicle that came and filmed everything that was going on at the entrance of the settlement. They also contacted Mijal Greenberg, a journalist from “Haaretz”, and described how a crowd of settlers had attacked them after they had protected shepherds whose flock was grazing next to the settlement. The whole story was uploaded onto the “Haaretz” web site Saturday night 23:40 as a news alert.
When the chairman of the secretariat understood that as far as the police was concerned, he could do nothing to prevent the police him from using force against the residents of the settlement, in their own home, in the presence of their wives and children and elderly residents, he ordered the residents to vacate the road out of the settlement and allow the security and police forces to leave the settlement, and that the they would continue the talks outside.
Before our eyes, the absurd reached its peak: the police officer, which had been summoned by the representatives of the settlement to arrest the provocateurs, pronounces the gathering of the residents of the settlement, in their own home, was illegal! He then summoned a special unit that specializes in using force to scatter crowds, totally ignoring the fact that throughout the whole incident, no one had laid a hand on the leftist activists while they were in the settlement!
The chairman of the secretariat realized that the residents would not have the strength or the resources to witness the terrible sight of police beating civilians in their homes! This would just exacerbate their anguish, after the trauma of the terrible tragedy, which had occurred eight days prior to the incident when a leaking gas canister had blown up the home of one of the residents. While the victims of this tragedy lay in the hospital seriously injured, in a coma, connected to oxygen, an entire community (some of whom have been diagnosed as traumatized as a result of witnessing the tragedy) was forced to interrupt the only time they have to rest on Shabbat in order to thwart a provocation instigated by leftist activists who had barged into their settlement, right in front of terrified children. The leftists also forced the representatives of the settlement to desecrate the Shabbat publicly (under the direction of the rabbi) as they had to use their cellular telephones and take pictures to document the incident to be used as legal evidence. They were even forced to open up the gates of the settlement to allow the entrance of patrol cars into the center of the settlement.
I turn to you personally, you Jewish activists. You deliberately planned to create a fraudulent situation, to inflict damage to the soft belly of a community that has no interest in these dishonorable battles forced upon them. Even worse, these confrontations involve our police, as if we were criminals undermining the public order.
Yes, you succeeded in surprising us. The aggressiveness of your insolence, and the blazing hatred burning within you towards your brothers as if you were acting in the defense (a word which has no place in the reality of the residents of the settlement, who have caused no harm to local Arabs!) of Arab shepherds who did not need, and have never needed, protection because no one has ever bothered them, since they graze their flock outside the boundaries of the settlement.
We appeal to you with a true and sincere request to stop this witch-hunt that you want to suck us into. We have no intention of being dragged into a conflict, if only to prevent turmoil that would tarnish our souls and the souls of our children. We are determined to take action, utilizing all the legal resources available to us, against those who pursue such an agenda. We are upstanding, law-abiding citizens, while you flaunted the law when you burst into a settlement that is defined as private property.
We have no problems with the Arabs in the area (who build their homes illegally but no one says a word to them) or with the shepherds who graze their flock without any veterinarian supervision or permits from the Ministry of Agriculture, as long as they do not disturb our routine, and do not endanger our lives or our children’s lives.
When you come to your senses, and you look at reality with a true eye, we shall be happy to invite you to be our guest in our settlement, not as hot-tempered invaders but rather as partners with whom we can exchange opinions.