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The destruction of the nine Amona buildings was completed at approximately 2:30 PM. Tales of brutal and unprovoked police violence are beginning to surface. The Magen David Adom emergency medical service reported that a total of 144 wounded were evacuated to hospitals in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Roughly half of the injured were protestors. Hundreds of other wounded protestors were treated in Amona itself. Eleven people were evacuated by IDF helicopters - yet only a total of six are in serious or moderate condition.
Close to 300 other protestors were treated in a giant tent set up for the purpose near the site of the destruction.
One injured protestor said, "We were standing in the front line, with no intention of using violence or anything, and all of a sudden the police just rained down on us with horses and clubs... My injury seems to OK; I hardly needed any stitches, and the doctors here [at Hadassah Ein Karem Hospital] sent me home for three days of rest. But others were hurt even more than I was."
At 5 PM, a large rally will be held at the main Tel Aviv-area Geha Junction, in protest of today's violent destruction of the homes in Amona.
At the entrance to Jerusalem, 100 people demonstrated and held signs against the destruction in Amona. They stood on the sidewalks and did not interfere with traffic. In downtown Jerusalem, a similar but smaller rally was held.
The Yesha Rabbis Council issued this statement: "We are shocked from the cruel and horrific abuse perpetrated by Israeli police upon Jews... 37,000 demolition orders are ready to be executed, and of all of them, the Supreme Court and the police chose precisely this one in Amona, with the goal of destroying the religious-Zionist public."
One girl who participated in the protest arrived home with bruises on her face and leg, saying, "I got out safely only by miracle." Her story:
"We were outside the 5th house, with the goal of forming a line to stop the police from climbing into the windows. We had planned in advance, because of modesty and the like, that when the police would tell us to go, we would go right away. But they didn't let us. They just set upon us - all of them: Yasamnikim, Border Guard, soldiers, everyone - and didn't give us a chance. I screamed, 'I'm going by myself!' but they didn't care; I heard them saying, 'Smack them! Get them!' They hit me with a club on my leg, and then they pushed me to the ground and smashed me with clubs twice more - once on my face, right near my eye. Miraculously, he didn't hit me on the skull; I saw others right near me bleeding from their heads, unconscious - it was just terrible... It was just by miracle that nothing worse happened to me."
Yifat Ehrlich, the owner of one of the destroyed homes, was interviewed on Israel Television. Asked about the fact that the State was destroying the buildings legally, she said, "This whole thing has nothing to do with law, but only with politics. The Supreme Court did not order the houses destroyed, but merely refrained from intervening in a political decision of the government. The government decided to destroy the buildings, in spite of the fact that we were in the midst of finalizing the purchase."
"I want to say,"Yifat said, "that from an ethical standpoint, I feel much better about the houses we built than you should feel. The land here was never occupied by an Arabs, it was totally barren when we came, no one has ever come to claim ownership, and we did not banish any one from this land - as opposed to where you might be sitting in Jerusalem, or in Tel Aviv, or in Haifa, where many Arabs used to be living..."
"As you can see on the screen in front of you, the bulldozers are having a harder time destroying these structures than in Gush Katif. In Gush Katif, when Sharon the bulldozer was in charge, each house took a few minutes to raze, while here, with Olmert, it's not going so fast. Why? Because Olmert is not yet the bulldozer that Sharon was - but soon, the media will help turn him into a bulldozer, and he'll be able to do it stronger...
"The only reason why all this violence is happening is because Olmert wanted blood - and so he received it. But the truth is, it doesn't matter; we have patience. Because I'm sitting here nursing my three-week-old baby, next to my other children here in the park in Ofrah, and we'll have other children with G-d's help - not like Olmert, whose daughter has left the country - and soon in 20 or 30 years, we will be in charge - and then we will have a country based on fear of G-d, and pleasantness, and mutual respect."
When Yifat mentioned Ehrlich, the interviewer interrupted by saying that she should not get into "personal details," but she continued talking, and the interview then ended.
Central Region Commander Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh said the police used "reasonable force." He said that the police merely responded to the grave violence of the protestors, including cinderblocks and metal pipes, and were "not far from life-threatening situations."
Hamas responded to the events in Amona by stating, "We have no reason to thank the army for emptying out this settlement."
Amona spokesman Ariel Kahane said, "I have never seen police violence on the scale I saw today, especially when the police rammed through a line of civilian protestors."
Some 20 protestors have been arrested, though some reports say that the true amount is more than double that. Among them are Hillel Roth of the Honenu civil rights organization and Nadia Matar of Women in Green. Hillel Roth said that he was arguing with a senior police officer when the latter became enraged and put him under arrest. Matar spoke to Arutz-7 from Hadassah Hospital. She said that after her arrest, the police threw her down, injuring her in the back. "But I'm not the issue," she said. "What about the hundreds of others who were hurt even worse than me?"
The police say they plan to make many more arrests. They will search through the hours of video film clips they took, and try to identify every protestor who threw something at police. They will then come and arrest them at home.
Morning report: Scores of young Jewish protestors are wounded in Amona after police moved in swinging clubs. "Excessive police violence," according to all reports. One house has been destroyed.
Several youth were trampled by police horses and left bleeding on the ground.
"We saw a lot of use of clubs and horses," one television commentator said, "and there are many questions that will have to be answered, because afterwards, the evacuation was done efficiently without such extreme violence."
Moti Yogev, a leader of the Amanah settlement organization, said in a breathless and even crying voice: "The police brutally beat me, and they brought in horses with uncontrolled violence. I begged the police commander to get rid of the horses, and they did so only after they left many people bleeding on the ground. This is the cruel violence of Olmert and Mofaz, and they will not be forgiven."
Reports on the number of people wounded vary from 80 to 250. Many of them have been taken to Jerusalem hospitals.
Police succeeded to break into one of the nine disputed houses. One man was seen on TV thrown from the window of the house and landing on his head.
Phone numbers of relevant public officials:
Police Chief Karadi - 02 5308100 fax 02 530 8118
President Moshe Katzav - phone: 02 6707211, fax 02 5671314
State Comptroller's Office - 02 666 5000, fax 02 666 5204
PM's Spokesman - 02 5666920 fax 02 566 9245
Olmert's personal spokesman - 02 6662301 fax 02 666 4400
Chief Rabbi Metzger 02 5377872 Chief Rabbi Amar 02 5371305
The police/army forces brought a D9 tractor to the first building, and unloaded a host of heavily-equipped special unit policemen over the barbed wire and onto the roof. They then began throwing the youths into the shovel of the bulldozer - first with great violence, which diminished in time. The removal of those on the roof took about a half-hour, and then the police crews moved to the second building.
Channel One's anchor interviewed MK Uzi Landau (Likud), on the backdrop of the violent scenes, and asked, "What can be done to stop this?" When Landau started to blame the Supreme Court for its decisions and the Acting Prime Minister for his refusal to agree to any compromise, the anchor shortly cut him off and said, "I'm sorry, what about the leadership of the youth, and you cannot do election propaganda here," and ended the interview.
In another television scene, a commentator explained why the police are allowed to use violence to enforce the law against "law-breakers," without noting that most of the protestors were not breaking any law but were rather protesting lawfully. As he spoke, a policeman could be seen pushing each protestor immediately after he or she jumped out of the window of the house.
Arutz-7's Yishai Fleischer reporting from the scene: "I am seeing youth exercising non-violent civil disobedience by laying down in front of a D-9 tractor which is heading towards the first house to destroy it. I just saw a soldier beating one of the youths who was laying down. He is now bleeding? This is not a joke. Police are now spraying some gas cloud onto the youth on the roofs. I have never seen this. I don't know what it is. The kids are having difficulty breathing."
Shortly afterwards, Fleischer said, "I just saw Knesset Member Dr. Aryeh Eldad walking around with his arm in a sling. I asked him what happened. He said, 'They broke my arm.'" Dr. Eldad was the former Chief Medical Officer of the IDF.
MK Effie Eitam was run over by a horse, and was seen bleeding heavily from his head.
Arutz-7 Radio showhost Ari Abromovitz reported the following live from Amona: "The soldiers came in on horses with clubs swinging indiscriminately. The protestors responded by hurling objects including rocks and bricks from the roofs. I saw a little girl kicked down the mountain. I have never seen anything so violent."
Several youth were trampled by police horses.
Yesha Council Leader Pinchas Wallerstein was screaming on Israel TV being the police to stop their indiscriminate smashing of heads. He described how in front of his eyes, young protestors who were standing looking on were suddenly attacked by police officers swinging clubs, only to be left laying on the ground bleeding from their heads. "It is shocking to see what Olmert is doing here," screamed Wallerstein on Israel TV. "I have never seen such a violent police evacuation in my life."
Israel TV showed a steady stream of stretchers with bleeding protestors being carried away.
At this hour, Arutz-7's IsraelNationalRadio is providing live coverage of the events in Amona.
A wild group of policemen ran into a private home in Amona, not one of those that was to be destroyed but in which many children and adults were staying, and knocked over a girl from her chair and made a general ruckus - all in search of a boy they thought had run in to the house.
Each of the nine houses was packed with youth, sleeping on every square inch of floorspace, while the roofs were filled with still more youths, behind barbed wire and the like. Policemen knocked down the window of one house, and began forcibly removing the people from inside. The Israel Broadcasting Authority Channel One television camera caught policemen pushing and beating youths even after they were outside the homes - but mysteriously, the camera then moved upwards and outwards so that these scenes could no longer be seen.
Initial reports say that 21 police officers were injured. No official reports have been received thus far regarding the youth who were injured from police violence. Eyewitness Yehudit Halfon saw two civilians transferred at the entrance to Jerusalem from regular to Intensive Care ambulances.
Hillel Fendel is Senior News Editor at Arutz-Sheva. This article appeared in Arutz-Sheva (www.IsraelNationalNews.com) February 1, 2006.
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