Earlier this week, the government went to war. But the target this time was neither a terrorist movement nor a hostile state.
It was Israeli citizens living in Judea and Samaria.
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 close 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.
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 construction were enforced.
Why the discrepancy? Doesn't the "rule of law" apply equally to Arabs and Jews? THE 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.
Even Haaretz, which is not exactly known as being sympathetic to settlers, pointed out the gaping discrepancy between the police's version of events and reality. The paper noted that "a spokesman for the Judea and Samaria police assured Monday that protesters were only fired at after stones were thrown. Eyewitness testimonies and footage of the incident paint a different picture, though."
"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.