Friday, March 4, 2011

The demolitions at Gilad Farm had nothing to do with legalities and everything to do with international diplomacy.

In a predawn raid on Monday with all the trappings of a military assault, hundreds of heavily armed border police, clad in black, were dispatched to Gilad Farm, an outpost near Kedumim. After rudely awakening residents at 5 a.m., they proceeded to their dirty work, manhandling men, women and children in a disgraceful display of brutality.

More than a dozen people were injured as policemen allegedly fired rubber bullets – in some cases from cose range – as well as tear gas and stun grenades.

And then, in what seemed intended to add insult to injury, the security forces brazenly ignored the religious sensitivities of the residents, with male officers grabbing married women, pulling and dragging them without shame.

Just what, you might be wondering, was the “crime” which prompted this outburst of state-sponsored violence? Why, it was Jews building on privately owned Jewish land, of course! Gilad Farm is in Samaria, and owned by the Zar family. It is named after Gilad Zar, who was murdered by Palestinian terrorists in a May 2001 ambush.

For years, the government has refused to allow additional structures to be built there, with Defense Minister Ehud Barak among those leading the charge.

In light of this ongoing injustice, local Jews began to build anyway, in what the mainstream media loves to refer to as “unauthorized West Bank outposts.”

So when the police swooped down on Gilad Farm, they set about destroying a home, a tent and the foundation of another structure, deeming them “illegal.”

The real transgression here is that the government is trampling on private property rights. More importantly, it is ignoring the inalienable right of the Jewish people to settle the entire Land of Israel.

MK Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz took Defense Minister Barack to task Thursday in an interview for the Knesset Channel. "Barak is a 'corrupt tyrant' who is deliberately provoking Jews in Judea and Samaria," he said.

"Barak's ultimate goal is to get support for the use of extreme force against Judea and Samaria Jews and to ease the task of evicting Jews from their homes, in order to protect his vision of the 'two state solution'," Ketzaleh said.

Orders to fire plastic bullets at residents of Havat Gilad this week “came straight from Barak,” he added.

“This is a defense minister who has crossed red lines. He's corrupt, and he's under pressure. He's a tyrant,” Ketzaleh proclaimed. He also voiced accusations against Minister of Public Security Yitzchak Aharonovich, who he said lied to the Knesset when he claimed that police
fired only 13 plastic bullets at Havat Gilad, and that residents were not hurt. In fact, the police fired hundreds of plastic bullets, and several people were injured, Ketzaleh informed his audience.

When asked why he termed Barak “corrupt,” Ketzaleh explained that Barak's Independence party, with just five MKs, received four ministries – giving an unprecedented 80% of MKs a senior position. That fact alone indicates corruption, he said, and agreed that by using that example he was also accusing PM
Netanyahu of corruption.

Public Agrees: Police were Violent
A Knesset Channel poll conducted after the Havat Gilad incident seemed to show support for Ketzaleh's anger over police violence. Nearly 60% of respondents said police are “violent,” while 37% said they are “not violent.”

When asked if police treat nationalist protesters and leftist protesters equally, 37% of respondents said police are more forceful with the right wing, 20% said police use more force against leftists, and 31% said police treat all protesters equally.

Remarkably, for all of Barak’s blather this week about the need to uphold the “rule of law,” he seems to employ a double standard in applying it to Jews and Arabs in the territories. According to figures released recently by the Civil Administration, 25 percent of all demolition orders for illegal structures located in Jewish outposts in Judea and Samaria in 2010 were carried out.

Curiously, only 13.6% of similar orders for illegal Palestinian construuction were enforced.

Why the discrepancy? Doesn’t the “rule of law” apply equally to Arabs and Jews? Border police, of course, vigorously deny having used excessive force at Gilad Farm, insisting that only after residents attacked them did they resort to harsher methods.

But if the police lie, the videos do not. Footage clearly shows officers raising their rifles and firing at close range. Officers are seen viciously grabbing protesters, behaving more like drunks in a bar than public servants sworn to maintain law and order.

“Of the 13 people hit by the rubber bullets,” Haaretz reported, “two were shot in the back Yehuda Shimon, a lawyer and a resident of the ranch, was shot at close range in both knees while filming, without being a threat to police.”

This entire incident is an utter disgrace, and Barak should be fired immediately. It is unconscionable that a democracy would deploy aggressive force against its own citizens.

The demolitions at Gilad Farm had nothing to do with legalities and everything to do with international diplomacy. Is it a coincidence that they were carried out barely a week after the US grudgingly vetoed a UN Security Council resolution that would have condemned settlements? Hardly.

The government simply wanted to begin paying down its “diplomatic debt” to Washington by acceding to its demand to tear down the outposts.

The invasion of Gilad Farm is just the opening salvo in what will likely become an intensified campaign of destruction.

The writing is clearly on the wall, which explains the spirited demonstrations in Jerusalem and elsewhere in the aftermath of this devious deed.

The fury is especially acute because five months after the end of the freeze on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, the government is now deploying bulldozers, not to develop the land, but to disfigure it.

So don’t be fooled by the pompous pronouncements of our politicians, or by the malicious misrepresentations of the media. The real threat to the Jewish state doesn’t come from a small group of pioneers bravely trying to reclaim our ancestral homeland. It comes instead from a government that has simply lost its way.

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