Monday December 22nd 2014

Angry Youth Force Government Officials from Beit El

by Eitam Abadi

There is growing rage in the Binyamin region’s Gofna hills, where residents and resistance activists feel that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) knowingly misled them when promising to build 300 new homes in place of the 30 homes to be demolished in the ancient Jewish town of Beit El.

Residents of the five endangered apartment buildings in Beit El’s Ulpana neighborhood are said to be preparing for “a harsh struggle” over the homes.

Tensions ran high in the neighborhood on Wednesday, as angry youth chased defense ministry officials from their mountain. The defense ministry team had reportedly come to Beit El to gauge the feasibility of using a technique known as “sawing” to move the apartment buildings from Ulpana to another location in Beit El.

The officials, however, were forced to flee when confronted with youth pelting them with rocks and paint.

No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.

“The check Netanyahu gave us in his promises has bounced,” a Beit El resident said.

He further said that a senior official in the justice ministry told him that there is no way to implement Netanyahu’s plan to build ten new homes in Beit El for every one destroyed.

“The prime minister lied in statements that were intended to convince the ministers to support his position and oppose the Regulation Law,” the resident added.

Rabbi Zalman Melamed, chief rabbi of Beit El and prominent leader in the national-religious community, issued a letter on Wednesday, calling upon activists and political leaders to join the fight to save the Ulpana neighborhood.

“We call on the entire public and on lawmakers who are faithful to the Land of Israel to join in this decisive struggle with dedication and a willingness to sacrifice,” the rabbi wrote in a short missive sent to the press.

Government officials have recently made efforts to reach out to the influential Melamed in order to ensure a peaceful evacuation of the buildings.

Speaking to his students on Saturday night, the rabbi said that the campaign would comprise of two paths, one of dialogue to achieve their aims and one of protest, although he said specifically that he would not yet enter into details about “the strength or severity” of this protest campaign.