The live television coverage worldwide of 3,000 Israeli cops and soldiers Wednesday, Feb. 1 as they dragged people out of 42 family homes in Amona, a tiny Jewish farming outpost on a hilltop northeast of Ramallah, was an agonizing sight for every Israeli – whatever his or her political stripe. They differed only in assigning blame, but almost all awarded the country’s ruling institutions a failed grade for allowing the Amona affair to reach its tragic moment, although it contributes nothing toward solving the dispute with the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and the two Jewish Home ministers Naftali Bennett, Education, and Ayelet Shaked, Justice, lost their right to claim leadership of the right-wing camp at Amona, 2017.
They stand accused of learning nothing from the traumas of the forcible evacuation of 8,500 Jewish families from Gush Katif, as part of Ariel Sharon’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip; and the brutal mounted police charge ordered by Ehud Olmert in 2006 to remove Jewish families from Amona in its previous incarnation. Neither action brought Israeli an inch closer to peace with the Palestinians.,
In that respect, Netanyahu has followed in the footsteps of his predecessors, Sharon and Olmert, both of whom are denigrated by a great many Israelis to this day, for bowing to the political correct ideologies which brand Jewish habitation in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria “Israeli occupation.”
Netanyahu has won high kudos for his breakthrough to understandings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Egyptian President Abdel-Fatteh El-Sisi and his covert contacts with Saudi King Salman. In that department, he has demonstrated leadership; not so in controversial matters at home, where he hesitates to grasp thorny problems, take a clear stand and cut through to decisions.
Bennett was booed by the faithful of his party when he tried to argue that the battle for Amona may have been lost, but the war for Judea and Samira has been won. Time will tell whether this claim holds up, even during the Trump administration, with which he claims covert contacts.
Then, too, the shilly-shallying of the forces of law and order under police chief Ronny Alsheikh over how to handle the influx of hundreds of deeply committed pro-settlement youths and the holdouts among the residents who were determined to stay put in Amona buildings come what may.
Two columns of police marched into the village, attired in baseball caps and track suits with instructions to achieve a peaceful evacuation by hugs rather than blows. They carried no arms or even crowd control measures when they were confronted with young truants from schools and yeshivas come for the fight.
It is hard to understand how eight IDF battalions failed to block the roads leading to Amona and declare the village a sterile zone. This would have prevented religious and political agitators, sensation-seekers, and flocks of reporters from mixing in and getting in the way of the fairly simple operation to take over a small number of mostly deserted buildings. But as the day wore on, the shambles increased and by day’s end, police chiefs admitted they had failed to finish the job in one day as planned.
After announcing they would be back at first light Thursday, they changed course and declared they would carry on through the night. The evacuees marked a psychological victory in round one.
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