Last week several hundred youth from all over Israel started coming into Hebron in order to show support and provide assistance to the community and the families threatened by expulsion. Being aware that the 15th of January was quickly approaching, and without any idea as to when the expulsion might be implemented, the Hebron community welcomed the youth with open arms. All help would be needed if the forces moved in. It is expected that thousands of police, soldiers and other special security forces will participate in the expulsion attempt, should it actually occur (G-d forbid.)
On Shabbat, the 14th of January, tensions ran high. The next day, Sunday, was the deadline. That next night could be D-Day. During the day several clashes were reported, between Israelis and Hebron Arabs, who started pelting people with rocks, and between Israelis and some of the security forces. During this incident an Israeli officer was hit and slightly wounded by a rock thrown by an Arab. This despite reports in the Israeli media that a Jew intentionally hit the officer with the rock. A weekly Shabbat tour of the Kasba was canceled at the last minute, with over 100 people waiting to participate. Some people started runing through the Kasba in reaction to the cancellation and this caused a brief confrontation with some of the security forces.
Saturday night: Some kids start a fire in an abandoned store. Hebron youth put the fire out.
Sunday: January 15 – tension filled the air. Would nine families find themselves without homes the next day. Late Sunday morning: a group of youth, walking through Hebron, passing Beit Hadassah in the direction of the Tel Rumeida neighborhood find the road blocked by Israeli soldiers, who refuse to let them pass. Among the security forces: Hebron military commander, Col. Motti Baruch. A discussion quickly becomes heated, voices are raised, push comes to shove. The kids want to know: why can't they keep walking? The pushing and shoving between the two sides gets rough. And then, suddenly, Col. Motti Baruch loads his M-16 rifle, in the direction of the youth. All hell breaks loose. Hebron leaders arrive at the scene and separate the two sides, pushing the youth away from the soldiers. Hebron police arrive and close off the street in both directions, declaring the gathering of youth 'illegal,' and threaten to start arresting people. The kids disappear and after a while the police leave. But the tension is so high you can cut it with a knife.
Sunday afternoon: Word filters out – the troops are on their way. A group of over 100 security forces, accompanied by horse-bound police march from Ma'arat HaMachpela to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood. Marching in, they immediately take to the roofs of adjacent buildings and take down make-shift tents pitched in the neighborhood. They start chasing after some of the kids, snatching them, here and there. Several are arrested and dragged away. After a little while the action stops but the troops remain. It turns into a stand-off: the troops watching the kids on rooftops and the kids staring at the police. Every once in a while an egg lands close to one of the police. When some of the youth threaten to throw rocks, Hebron leaders call on them to stop. That's the way things remain for a few hours, until the police leave.
During the night: again, tense, but quiet.
Monday morning: January 16: calm and quiet blanket the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, site of the previous day's action. Some of the youth express a desire to head home. Then, suddenly, late in the morning, again, word gets out: they're on their way again. The troops, the water cannon, the horses! This time over 150 people invade the neighborhood, making their way quickly into the courtyard. Riot squad members, running, break into the Beitar Guest House, and climb up to the roof. Other police line the walls of the neighborhood. Still others climb up other stairs, stationing themselves on people's porches and roofs. A chain of police line up on stairs leading to the Avraham Avinu synagogue and Beit Nachum v'Yehuda, preventing people from reaching them. After a short time the small neighborhood is full of uniformed invaders, who, after having taken up positions, do nothing else. Why have they arrived? One of the commanders tells his troops: "we are here to show 'strength.'" When Noam Arnon asks an officer, 'what are you doing here – everything is quiet and under control?" he is ignored. When he demands to see a search warrant from police chief Ali Zammir, allowing him to break into the Beitar Guest House, which is private property, Zammir's response: "if you have a complaint, put it in writing and send it to me." The police break the locks on door's leading to building rooftops in order to take up positions. Who will pay for the damage? The police don't care.
For hours the police stand at their positions, doing nothing. Several arrests are reported, including that of a 12 year old girl who is dragged into a police van screaming for someone to stay with her, to no avail.
Finally, after hours of a second day of standoff, the security forces leave the neighborhood. Many riot squad members go down the road to Beit Hadassah and there too, stand outside, in a display of 'strength.' Eventually they too, leave.
It is clear that the primary reason for the day's police show is overtly provocative: The police, arriving en masse, hope to 'be attacked' by the 'violent hoodlums' thereby providing an excuse to beat and arrest them. However, the kids are too smart to fall into the trap. The police experience only cold and boredom.
Early Evening: Most of the youth have decided to leave. The expulsion is still pending. According to sources within the government, it will not be implemented for at least a couple of more weeks. The kids can take a break and come back again in a week or so, if they are still needed.
Many journalists asked: how can you put up with such 'violent hooligan's,' in their words. The answer is very simple. These youth are neither hoodlums or hooligans. Rather, they are some of the most ideologically motivated people in Israel today. These kids are true lovers of their land, of Eretz Yisrael. These youngsters are still crying the pain of expulsion from Gush Katif and the northern Shomron. Their hearts are still bleeding the wounds of our land being abandoned to our enemies. They hurt the hurt of thousands of homeless Jews, who committed no crime but to live in Gush Katif.
These youth want to prevent more expulsions, here in Hebron, and in Amona, and in other places throughout Judea and Samaria. Enough is enough! No more expulsions, no more homeless, no more abandoned Jewish property. Eretz Yisrael belongs to Am Yisrael, the Jewish people and no one, but no one, has the right to evict and expel Jews from their land.
And what about the excessiveness, the seeming violence? Sixteen year-olds don’t react the same way as fifty year olds. Sometimes the reactions are exaggerated, but then again, remember what they are fighting for. In contrast, how many youth have been stabbed at Israeli nightclubs, due to 'love' or drugs or alcohol, or all three of the above? Dozens and dozens. Almost every weekend, another act of real violence, due to… a desire for what? For the good of our land, of our people, of our Torah? When was the last time 'the troops were sent in' to prevent another stabbing, another murder? How many 'troops have been called in' to stop another terror attack, leaving more orphans and widows? How many troops are called up to prevent another Kasam missile from falling in Sderot? Our youth, having witnessed people singing and dancing, hugging and kissing their expellers this summer in Gush Katif scream out: "NO MORE! We will not sing and dance with people who want to throw us out of our homes, off our land. They are the real criminals, not us!" And how right they are!
We should be proud that we have such youth, whose motivation stems, not from personal desire or gain, but from a true love and yearning for their land, a G-d given gift to our people.
Long live the youth of Israel!