Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I like Ynet News breezy irrelevant style even though it is a hard-core leftie online tabloid. But every once and awhile I come across a report like this and I just got give my head a shake.
Two soldiers were lightly injured Tuesday afternoon during confrontations with a group of settlers who they tried to prevent from reaching the former settlement of Homesh in the West Bank, the army said.

Hundreds of right-wing activists arrived in Homesh, defying a government decision to bar settlers and their supporters from marching to the evacuated settlement on Independence Day. The army said a scuffle erupted when the soldiers told the settlers that Homesh was off-limits. The army set up roadblocks on roads leading to the settlement which was evacuated in 2005 part of the disengagement plan.
You can read the whole article but there isn’t any mention of any of the marchers injured and the hundreds of marchers actually turned into thousands in Ha’aretz:
Two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were lightly wounded on Tuesday as they attempted to prevent protestors from reaching the site of the evacuated West Bank settlement Homesh. The soldiers were treated on the scene for light injuries and were not hospitalized.

According to organizers of the event, however, no soldier was attacked, saying a verbal argument broke out after a Border Police jeep struck a protester's leg. She was taken to hospital for medical treatment.

The organizers say some 25,000 people reached the site of the former settlement Tuesday. Zafrir Ronen of "Homesh First" said that organizers "had prepared for 2,000 to 3,000 participants, but there are between 20 and 30,000 - religious, secular, ultra-Orthodox, youth, and elderly. The police have given up. Our determination has proven itself, and people are making it all the way [to the settlement]."

Ronen added that the demonstrators intend to stay the night at the site, despite the fact that organizers had promised that all protesters would leave Homesh by nightfall Tuesday and not attempt to remain at the site. The army said that the protestors managed to make their way to Homesh mainly by taking shortcuts or by bypassing IDF roadblocks in the area.

Demonstrators marched from the settlement of Shavei Shomron in the West Bank to the site of the former settlement of Homesh at 11 A.M. on Tuesday. The march is meant to commemorate the former settlement, evacuated as part of the Gaza Disengagement in the Summer of 2005.

Among the participants seen leaving Shavei Shomron were four busloads of Likud activists. The army placed barricades in the northern West Bank in an attempt to stop protestors from reaching the ruins. This move followed an attempt by Defense Minister Amir Peretz and IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi to stop the march by requiring its organizers attain a parade approval.

IDF sources have stated that the army will not allow anyone who is not a resident of Shavei Shomron to travel to the area. Nonetheless, IDF sources have stated that there is zero chance that they will be able to stop the march entirely. Former chief rabbi of Israel Avraham Shapira blessed the Homesh march and issued his support for the efforts of the "Homesh First" organization.

Since I read two leftie accounts which differed I decided to see what Arutz Sheva was reporting on the Homesh march:
At the head of the main organized group of marchers, which set off at 11:00 am from a nearby town, was Nobel Prize Laureate Professor Yisrael Aumann. The world-renowned professor of game theory stated in recent days that he sees a return to Homesh as "signaling the imperative change of direction the state needs. The march to Homesh expresses very well the aspiration to be a free people in our land." Prof. Aumann addressed the gathered activists, as did the Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba, Rabbi Dov Lior.

According to Tzafrir Ronen, among the march organizers, the turnout was far beyond what the Homesh First umbrella group had planned on. "We prepared for about 3,000 people, and there are more than 30,000 here," Ronen said. Eyewitnesses said the total number number of marchers on the road numbered between seven and ten thousand.

Dozens of hired buses, including some organized without the help or knowledge of the march organizers, brought supporters of Homesh resettlement from all over the country. The Likud movement also formally joined in on the Homesh march during Tuesday morning. Four buses hired by the Likud party brought activists to the area.

Most of marchers are teenagers and people under the age of 30, many pushing strollers with toddlers and babies, although some are middle-aged and older. "I've seen some grandfathers climbing up the hill," said eyewitness Jonathan Stein. Several thousand people had reached the ruins of Homesh by early afternoon, Stein reported. Commenting on the determination of all of the participants to complete the hike, organizer Ronen said, "I have been to all the battles and all the demonstrations - I have never seen anything like this."

The participants are varied and represent "all types - religious, secular, Haredi, old people and young," according to Ronen. "They are all streaming towards Homesh in an unbelievable flow. The police was unable to cope and simply folded up its tent and left the area. Of four or five jeeps, there remains one, [whose occupants] have nothing to do but have a friendly chat with the marchers. Determination has proven itself. It is also clear to the police that this place is ours...."

Despite the generally peaceful nature of the march, isolated incidents of confrontation during the resettlement demonstration led to six arrests, according to an IDF spokesman. A few security officers allegedly got out of their vehicle and used their weapons to strike a marcher who stepped into the road. The security forces reportedly thought the man was blocking them; the man reportedly thought the jeep was going to hit a group walking along the road.

Two activists were arrested early in the evening after punching holes in the tires of several IDF vehicles on the road between Shavei Shomron and Homesh. One Israeli was arrested earlier in the day after a group of marchers attacked IDF soldiers who tried to stop them at a checkpoint, showing them papers classifying the area as a closed military zone. Two soldiers were lightly injured in the altercation and were treated at the nearby army base.

In another incident, three Israelis were arrested after blocking the road between Shavei Shomron and Homesh by parking vehicles across, and lying down in, the street, effectively preventing IDF vehicles and medical units from passing.

One young marcher was reportedly struck by a Border Guard jeep on the way to Homesh. She has been evacuated to hospital for treatment; her condition is unknown as of this writing.


Homesh First activists said they would leave the area at the end of the day, in cooperation with the IDF Central Command coordinating officers. Hundreds of marchers made their way out of the Homesh area before dark with no unusual events reported. It was not initially clear how the remaining marchers would return from the area, however, since the army did not allow buses or other vehicles in to pick up the demonstrators. This left 5,000 civilians, including women and children, who were forced to venture into the wilderness in the dark as they were unprepared for, nor allowed to, stay overnight.

So maybe the IDF command had a little more to do with the marchers not leaving the area by nightfall as planned than Israeli leftie papers want to admit publicly - or not. And it is interesting how Ynet makes no mention of a civilian marcher being hit but a Border Guard jeep….Ha’aretz at least alludes to a marcher being injured - even if no explanation is given for the young woman’s injuries.

Though the leftie rags Israeli government, and the IDF have a much larger issue to deal with. The size and diversity of the marchers belies the idea that this is a small group of religious fanatics intent on taking back the Homesh settlement. Throw in the on-going kassam attacks and an aborted kidnapping attempt from Hamas all launched from the former Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip. Add a very public show of support by a major Israeli political party (Likud) and you could potentially have a political turning tide.

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