Sunday, August 28, 2005

West Bank End Game

For months there had been words of doom regarding the dis-engagement from Gaza and four settlements in the West Bank. That there would be blood on the streets as Jew expelled Jew, the opposition had promised hundred's of thousands protestors blocakading the army and police.

In true Israeli fashion, nobody's predictions came true, more people were injured in road accidents during the six days it took to remove the settlements than were injured in the actual operation of removing the settlers.

After the first phase in which the Gaza settlements were cleared, this week was the turn of the isolated settlements in the north of the West Bank. Deep inside Palestinian lands the four settlements to be evacuated had been fortified to repel the Army and Police.

Against one of the most disciplined and modern war forces in the world, the religious zealots and infilltrators thought that they would stock pile flour bombs and tomatoes complete with bottles of oil to pour down from the roofs.

We arrived in the settlement of Hormesh twenty four hours before the army and police, and drove into what can best be described as a quasi modern suburb with neat homes, paved streets, young parents pushing babies in strollers.

Given the ettiquette and rules of boys and girls not mixing, arranged marriages within the strict religious Jews, results in early marriage so it is not unusual to see young teen girls with at least one young child, I was talking to a young woman and found out that she was 24 and expecting her fifth child in the coming months.

So as we set up our live position on the edge of a playground overlooking the Synagogue and Yeshiva (Jewish Religious School same as an Islamic Madrassah), the speakers blare out that if anyone needs anymore magazines or ammunition to come down to the Yeshiva and collect them.

After being in the pleasant community of Hormesh for only a few hours, we had had five tyres slashed on our vehicles and rather than repair them, we decided to wait till things were over before repairing them. It turned out that the kid that had put the 18 holes in our tyres was ten years old and was arrested on the roof of the Yeshiva. A small pathetic child that had been brainwashed by religion and left on his own, I had no sympathy for this little kid as he represented what is wrong in this country and not the future.

There were about 1500 people in Hormesh, of those 1400 were infiltrators NOT settlers, they came to cause trouble. They had foolishly believed the right wing and religious leaders who had promised them tens of thousands more to boost there numbers and naturally divine intervention was immenent.

At seven am the next morning the police and army arrived, ten hours later with no injuries the operation was over. Clinical in its implementation, it was like watching a swiss watch movement.

Protestors had set up burning tyres barricades and torched the occasional car, this at the best delayed things by five minutes as the troops would simply relax find some shade (make some phone calls home on their cell phones) wait for the tyres to burn out, a D9 bulldozer would then push the tyres to the side and the evictions continued. Some came peacfully some came kicking and screaming but they all came rounded up and put on a bus out.

As we drove out (after repairs to the vehicles) the settlement of Hormesh was empty and will be bulldozed in the coming days. Driving out in the military convoy of buses and army vehicles we passed through a large Palestinian village, where people leaned on the balconies and watched in silence. No guns blasting the sky or dancing in the streets, but in their eyes you could see their glea.

Just fyi there are another 120 plus illegal Israeli settlements remaing in the West Bank

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