(The commentary below is an eye-witness account of the recent destruction of the Federman farm near Kiryat Arba. It is written by David Wilder, spokesperson for the Jewish Community of Hebron)
Last night [October 25, 2008] at just after one o'clock my cell phone rang. When the phone rings at 1:00 in the morning, at least in my house, something is wrong. Orit Struck was on the other end, apologizing for waking me up and then informing me that hundreds, if not more troops, — police, soldiers, the riot squad, etc. — were on their way to the Federman farm, located just off the road between Kiryat Arba proper and the Givat Harsina (Ramat Mamre) neighborhood, just about five minutes outside of Hebron. Their goal: to destroy the farm.
The homes on the Federman property have been there for over ten years. Noam and Elisheva have lived there for the past two years. Every once in a while the war drums start sounding, with rumors of an impending expulsion from the land, which the government says is 'illegally settled.' Most times, it's just noise. Tonight it looked like the real thing.
I was out of the house within about ten minutes. But when I arrived at Ma'arat HaMachpela, on the only road to Kiryat Arba, I found it blocked by border police and metal gates in the middle of the street. They motioned to me that the road was closed and that I should leave. I pulled out my press card, which in Israel is the closest thing to a magic wand, and presented it to the officer in charge. He took it and made a call on his walkie-talkie. A minute later he came back and returned the card. And told me to leave. "But I'm a journalist," I claimed. He looked at me, said "I know, but you can't go," and walked away. I requested numerous times, as did others, a warrant declaring the area to be a 'closed military zone.' Sometimes they responded, 'there's a warrant, it will eventually get here,' and other times, 'there is no warrant.' Others were told, 'there's a military operation going on — you have to stay here for your own good, so you won't be in danger.' Some were told, 'there's an armed terrorist in the Kasbah — we have soldiers looking for him. It's dangerous for you to be here. Go home!'
The truth was that all roads leading to the Federman farm had been sealed off. The troops didn't want the enemy to have any reserves assisting them.
At about 1:30 the two homes on the Federman farm were forcibly invaded. Sinai Tur and his wife Rivka were told that they had seven minutes to get out. The Federman family didn't have such luxury. The troops broke the home's windows and climbed in through them. They quickly made their way to the children's bedrooms where they shook awake the kids, dragged them from their beds, beating some of them, and forcefully expelling them from their home, still in pajamas. Some of the kids went via the door; others via through the window. Noam was immediately arrested, being suspected of planning to 'blow the forces up with gas balloons.' His daughter Isca, 16 1/2 years old, was also arrested for some unknown reason.
Once everyone was out, the bulldozer started plowing down the houses and other structures on the property. It didn't take too much time, as the families were not allowed to remove any of their belongings. Down came the houses, on top of everything that was inside. By 3:30 or so, it was over.
The families were left homeless and propertyless. As Elisheva Federman put it: "they wouldn't let me take my children's books or belongings or mementos. Eighteen years of marriage, nine children — everything we had, gone."
For no apparent reason, except pure hate. Hate for Jews living in Judea and Samaria; hate for Jews living in the Hebron - Kiryat Arba region; and an extra special hate for Noam and Elisheva Federman, who epitomize love for Eretz Yisrael.
The Israeli government, in particular Defense Minister Ehud Barak, (who is searching for political brownie points to assist him in the now upcoming election) and Generals Gaddi Shamni and Noam Tibon (who is an expert in destroying houses — he commanded the forces that destroyed the home of Livnat Uzeri, whose husband Nati had been, only months earlier, killed by terrorists in their home) — is intent on making life as difficult as possible for Jews in Yesha and in the Hebron region in particular.
Late this afternoon a large group of people began work to rebuild the Federman farm. A short time ago an appropriate response was issued by the ruling junta: A warrant was received informing that at ten o'clock tonight the entire area would be declared a 'closed military zone,' that cement blocks would be placed there surrounding the property, and security forces would remain there to insure that the area remained sterile (i.e. Judenrein).
Earlier today journalists interviewing me did not seem so interested in the destruction of the property or the expulsion of the families. Rather they seemed intent on asking/attacking me as a result of remarks made by people at the site of the devastation. Those comments ostensibly called for the death of IDF soldiers, and the 'wiping out of their names,' and that they should all 'be like Gilad Shalit.'
There is a saying in Hebrew that a person should not be held responsible for his words when his loved ones are still lying dead in front of him. That is how I relate to the above-quoted remarks. The expulsion from Gush Katif and Northern Samaria are all still much too fresh and the fate of those expelled still hurting much too much. It is no secret that this administration has plans to implement further expulsions, be they in the Hebron area, or Binyamin and the Shomron. There is a feeling in the air — a sensation reminiscent of the Rabin-Peres days following signing of the cursed Oslo Accords, when 'settlers' were unofficially declared 'enemies of the state' and were so appropriately treated.
The IDF [Israel Defense Force] and other security forces are an integral element necessary for Israel's survival. But they cannot and must not be taken advantage of to batter the very people they are supposed to protect and defend. I don't believe that anyone has any plans to begin a civil war, but the comments, as extreme as they are, seem to represent the growing frustration level amongst many Israelis. I see them, not as an active threat, rather as the mercury on a thermometer climbing higher and higher, much too fast.
Perhaps those making decisions in the current government should realize that what they refuse to do to Arab terrorists and their families they are all too willing to do to their own Jewish citizens, who have not murdered anyone. And it seems, with an appetite. An appetite to destroy.