Olmert in Show of Strength against Amona
Instead of letting litigation take its course and seeking common ground, the Olmert government deployed the toughest police anti-terror units in anti-riot mode to make an example of the unauthorized West Bank outpost of Amona on Wednesday, Feb. 1.
The brutality of the confrontation for demolishing nine houses was seen by all, hour by our, over live television. Four-fifths of the 250 injured, were protesters, many of them minors, and three parliamentarians who joined them. One-fifth of the injuries were suffered by police officers, who were pelted with stones, mud, paint-filled balloons and eggs.
Most of the injuries – head wounds and broken limbs – were inflicted by police when they stormed the barricaded houses, drove their horses against the demonstrators and laid about them with night sticks, hitting mostly 14-15-year old boys and girls and beating them to the ground.
All the reporters present noted the police had employed excessive, often unnecessary, force.
The Supreme Court in Jerusalem could have averted this brutal showdown.
The Binyamin Council offered a compromise whereby the home-owners would dismantle their own homes and relocate them at Ofra or alternatively raze them voluntarily. The offer was made to ward off the bitter, vicious showdown expected between anti-evacuation protesters and thousands of police and troops. It might have provided a peaceful precedent for at least some of the 100 West Bank outposts declared unauthorized.
However the Supreme Court dismissed this compromise appeal. It upheld the state’s arguments against any delays in the removal of the outpost, which were presented at the hearing on behalf of acting prime minister Ehud Olmert, chief of staff Lt.-Gen Dan Halutz and his deputy Brig. Moshe Kaplinsky.
The court ruled against the petitioners by two to one (Edna Arbel and Ayala Focaccia vs Elyakim Rubinstein). This left the high court’s record unmarred: since the Gaza Strip’s Gush Katif was torn down months ago, the high court judges have not allowed a single petition filed by would-be evacuees, even when the law was on the side of the petitioners. Instead, they consistently backed the policies of the Sharon government, a favor now inherited now by its successor.
debkafile‘s analysts note the slippery slope on which the Supreme Court set its feet: instead of meting out equal justice to all segments of the population without fear or favor, the judges are showing an increasing tendency to come down on the side of government.
Considerable anger and frustration exploded in a backlash on the West Bank Wednesday Feb. 1. After it was over, many asked what made Olmert soft on Hamas and tough on his own people. The comparison was too glaring to miss.
The most striking outcome of the destruction of Gush Katif (with the help of 40,000 troops) was the rise of Hamas. As a branch of the radical Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas refuses in principle to give up its religious-territorial war against the Jewish state and people and regards its acquisition of land in the Gaza Strip as a promising step on its road to victory.
Yet amid the showdown in Amona, Kadima minister Tzachi Hanegbi stood up and asserted that Israel’s strategic situation has never been so good.
“Hamas’s gain at the polls is not of our making,” he said. “Israel has more strategic leeway than ever before. The Americans and the Europeans are in full accord with us.”
Clearly, for the Israeli minister, the penny has not dropped.
But he was soon put right by Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit who presented Israel with the demand to free suspected Palestinian funds without delay. He spoke Wednesday during the new foreign minister Tzipi Livni’s first visit to Cairo for talks with Egyptian leaders on the Hamas election victory.
It is increasingly hard to question that Hamas was enable to leap to victory because it had been provided with an independent territorial springboard, which is linked directly to the radical elements of the Arab world through the wide-open border between Gaza and Egypt. This independent base came about as a result of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal, which therefore dangerously narrowed rather than broadened Israel’s strategic leeway.
The Americans, the Europeans and Egyptians are far from subscribing to Hanegbi’s views. No one will be surprised if tomorrow, Hamas hails Israel’s dismantlement of Amona as the fruit of its election victory. The Olmert government, Israel’s supreme court, its police and army have all combined in a step that will boost Hamas’ prestige in the Palestinian street as a winner. If the chief of staff has thousands of troops to spare to remove nine families from their West Bank homes, why is the army falling down on its job of protecting Israeli villages and towns from Palestinian missile attacks from the Gaza Strip where terrorists now run wild?