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Settlers attack Palestinians

Last update - 09:39 27/01/2010
Settlers attack Palestinians to avenge West Bank outpost demolition
By Chaim Levinson
Tags: Israel price-tag operations

The text messages were sent out en masse at about 9:43 A.M. "Buses full of Special Forces Police with flak jackets and nightsticks at the Rantis Junction," they warned. At 10:08 A.M., an update: "A large convoy that includes a D9 [bulldozer] is making its way to Gush Talmonim." At 10:15 A.M., the signal was given: "Demolition forces have taken over the gates. Everyone move in."

Several dozen teens from the area responded to the call and rushed to the Givat Menachem outpost, hoping to prevent the razing of the outpost's synagogue. It was too late. When they arrived, the police are already gone, leaving ruins behind them.

Avi Cohen searched the ruins of the synagogue for the missing mezuzah. Other teens also began to dig, to see if the cement foundations were still there.

And they began chanting slogans: "The police destroy nothing that belongs to Arabs." "The rule of evil is persecuting the settlements." "In 24 hours, we will set this place up anew." "We will not be broken."

As the number of teens at the site grew, and talk of the "unfair" treatment intensified, it was clear that a "price tag" operation - an attack against Palestinians or their property to retaliate for outpost demolitions - was only a matter of time. In recent months, the Dolev-Talmonim area has become a "price tag" zone.

The army had prepared for this in advance: It placed a military vehicle at the entrance of every single Palestinian village in the area.

But despite the military preparations, the youths found a weak point: a muddy path that led straight from the outpost to the Palestinian village of Bitilu, 500 meters away. Suddenly, the relative quiet turned into an assault, as one teen galloped to the top of the path, shouting, "Let's go! Mayhem!"

About 20 other teens, some with masked faces, joined him. They stopped suddenly near an olive tree, cut branches from it and made themselves improvised weapons. Other picked up stones, and one of the older ones became a security guard, making sure no journalists joined the operation.

"We will break your cameras," he threatened, to emphasize the risk of disobeying him. Another youth, his face masked, came up with a bottle of water to spill on the camera.

The crowd of rioters reached a house at the edge of Bitilu, which overlooks the nearby settlements. The house belongs to the Mazar family. Some of the teens approached the back of the house and threw stones at the windows. Other approached the car at the front and tried to set it on fire. One of the seats did catch fire, but the residents managed to put it out.

Two other members of the household tried to escape in another car. The rioters surrounded them and pelted them with stones.

Mohammed Mazar, who was visiting his grandmother, was hit in the head and began to bleed. Another relative was also injured, and both were evacuated to a local clinic.

All of this occurred in no more than two minutes. The rioters then quickly escaped, leaving behind destruction, casualties and an unsettled village. The village school was closed. Municipal workers were sent home. The shopkeepers in the center of the village closed their stores and rushed to the site of the attack. The villagers were furious.

Jamal Mazar showed everyone his son, who was bleeding from a wound to his head. Mohammed Radwan, the town's engineer, said at least 30 people were injured in the attack.

The villagers began preparing to attack the outpost and pay its residents back. But then, three border policemen arrived at the scene and barred the way.
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