Friday, December 5, 2008

Israelis v Israelis

The maelstrom that is Israel got a bit more stormy yesterday, as Israeli police evacuated hard-line settlers out of an area of the West Bank in an effort to move closer to a Palestinian State there. The scene was quite reminiscent of the Gaza evacuations, though on a much smaller scale. Then again, perhaps it should be a vision of the future. Massive forced evacuations will be necessary to move enough settlers out of the West Bank to create a sustainable, manageable Palestine.

Ah, the ghost of 1967...

The operation, carried out by 600 soldiers and policemen with stealth and efficiency, took half an hour and resulted in two dozen relatively light injuries. But events did not end there. Young settlers then rampaged through Palestinian fields and neighborhoods, setting olive trees on fire and trashing houses.

Maj. Avital Leibovich, an Israeli Army spokeswoman, said the southern part of the West Bank, known in Israel as Judea, was designated a closed military area. That means only those who live here may now enter, an effort to prevent outside settlers from causing further trouble. Within an hour of the order, cars were backed up in huge lines at new military roadblocks.

The contested building, which occupants had dubbed the House of Peace, is on the road to the Cave of the Patriarchs, where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and their wives are said to be buried, a site Muslims and Jews have coveted and fought over for centuries.

As the sun descended, the area around the building looked like a war zone. Evacuees were still being dragged about, with four police officers per person; rocks were strewn on the roadways; plumes of black smoke were rising from the olive groves; and hundreds of helmeted troops in riot gear were confronting a crowd of infuriated settlers.
Now that's a culture war.