The Gaza Pullout
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MARGARET WARNER: Today was the second day Israeli soldiers forcibly removed Jewish settlers from Gaza. Lindsey Hilsum of Independent Television News reports on today’s events from the settlement of Neve Dekalim.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Still singing, still praying, they gathered round the synagogue in Neve Dekalim this morning still hoping that God would intervene to stop the forced evacuation of the remaining Gaza settlers and protestors. But there was no miracle, just a long hot wait for the inevitable. They cursed and abused the soldiers.
Out came the sepulcher containing the Holy Scriptures to be shown to the waiting troops to impress upon them — as if they didn’t know — that they were about to force their way into a holy place. Inside, some made a point by their costume. These radicals call their fellow Jews, Nazis, saying that this operation is a betrayal of the Jewish nation. A Reserve major general in a T-shirt saying “I’m with you” tried to keep the mood calm, and bring the two sides to an understanding.
MAJ. GEN. (RES.) YORAM YAIR: I believe that Israel is strong enough to determine where its border should be and there’s no reason to be in the middle of the Gaza Strip. I believed it 20 years ago and for sure now.
LINDSEY HILSUM: Deadlines passed and rumors spread. They built barricades from benches and whatever they could find. The teenagers poured oil on the slate, hoping to make the soldiers skid but only catching out a couple of journalists. Less than a mile away in Shirat Hayam, the mood was not so sanguine.
Israeli troops are used to have stones thrown at them by Palestinians, not Israeli kids. They scattered spikes along the road to tear up the soldiers’ tires. A group of girls was arrested; the soldiers made them empty their pockets and found a small arsenal of nails. This settlement of 3,000 tenants was established by radicals just a few months ago. A hippie contingent has taken up residence as well.
MAN: We believe that the land belongs to us anyways — because our God gave it to us, you know, the God of the truth, the God of the universe.
LINDSEY HILSUM: But these people are hardcore. Four shimmied up a guard tower and took it over, ousting the soldiers who gave up without a fight. Soldiers poured through the door where one of the protester leaders of barricaded in.
They eventually managed to pry him out. The struggle went on and on. A few miles to the east in the isolated settlement the synagogue was under siege. When the security forces failed to persuade the protesters to leave they were lowered in shipping containers, hoisted on cranes.
The mood turned ugly, soldiers were pelted with flower bombs while dyed water was poured over the police as they tried to scale the walls and cut through the razor wire that the protesters put up around the synagogue. The police used water cannons. Then suddenly the situation turned more serious as distressed police began to flee, some in their underwear.
They were doused in water by their colleagues; it seems that they had been sprayed with acid by the people inside the synagogue. Back at the synagogue in Neve Dekalim, the troops moved in during the afternoon, male soldiers to deal with the men and boys, female soldiers to manage the girls.
They sang and prayed — 14 and 15-year-olds who have no doubt that they are right and whose parents have encouraged them to defy the law in the name of their religion. They’re now completely overwrought after several weeks of working each other up into state of continuous hysteria.
One by one the men and boys were brought out and taken away to waiting buses. Then eventually in the early evening they went for the girls. Shrieking and sobbing, they were led away.