Police attacked in Kfar Darom
Security forces have cleared settlers on roof of Kfar Darom synagogue, but activists pour caustic soda on soldiers, who began to scream and remove uniforms; Southern Command Head Dan Harel: ‘This is disgrace’; Police chief says 'Restraint is now over'; Neve Dekalim synagogue also raided, all Gaza synagogues now evacuated
Attack on troops: As security forces burst through onto the roof of the Kfar Darom synagogue, protesters poured paint, oil, and a burning substance later identified as caustic soda on troops.
Police and soldiers screamed in pain as they were hit with the caustic soda, and removed their uniforms. Protesters said the substance was just "engine oil."
Activists rain down paint and caustic soda on police (Channel 2)
One of the policemen was heard shouting, “My back is burning, my back is burning.”
Police chief Moshe Karadi said following the disturbance that “restraint by police is now over, anyone who takes part in acid throwing will be arrested.”
Karadi said the police would change its behavior towards the protesters, 50 of whom have already been arrested after coming down from the synagogue roof.
About 40 people were lightly injured during the day's events, including 14 soldiers, 27 policemen and 17 civilians - 23 of them were taken to Soroka Hospital in Beer Sheva for medical assistance.
Before storming the rooftop, the commander of the forces told soldiers, “Lower your glasses and get ready, you will get oil, water paint, you will get everything, but keep your gaze straight and burst forward.” Equipped with ladders, the security forces climbed the roof.
Rooftop battle between police and youths (Photo: AP)
The clashes have so far resulted in five injures, including burns from the chemicals spilt by anti-disengagement activists. Others lost consciousness.
Yanif Sana, one of the activists, told Ynet that “we did everything so that our children and grandchildren will remember that we fought to stay here in Kfar Darom.”
Police had a difficult time reaching the roof, and could not gain control on the activists once on the roof, due to the missiles and chemicals thrown at security officers.
Earlier, after receiving a green light, large numbers of security forces stormed synagogues in Neve Dekalim and Kfar Darom on Thursday afternoon, each containing hundreds of youngsters who have barricaded themselves in and are holding prayer sessions.The settlement of Gan Or also saw dozens of residents fortify themselves in a synagogue, which was raided by security forces.
Forces storm Kfar Darom synagogue (Video: Channel 2)
At a certain point, Kfar Darom’s religious leader, rabbi Schreiber, attempted to separate between the sides.
Army confronts activists in Neve Dekalim synagogue (Photo: Ilan Marciano)
Earlier, activist youths and security forces faced one another before clashing, and one by one, the youths were removed from the synagogue.
However, army officials estimate that despite the resistance, the evacuation would proceed without the use of violence. Still, forces have prepared a water cannon and a cage. Officials say the roof may not be sturdy enough and could collapse, requiring extra care to be taken once the move is made.
Earlier, masses barricaded themselves in the synagogue, while efforts were made to end the standoff without violence. Police Chief Moshe Karadi, who arrived at the community, told Ynet officials he hoped to end the standoff Thursday, but did not reject the possibility the affair will draw to an end Friday.
Meanwhile, in Neve Dekalim, forces first stormed the Sephardic synagogue, where the male youth activists were staying, and began dragging pullout foes outside. The youngsters were holding on to each other and refusing to allow soldiers to remove them.
A little after 7 p.m. the Yesha Council heads and young activists held a combined prayer service with teh security forces, including Southern District Police Commander Uri Bar-Lev.
The participants took the Torah scroll out of the Holy Ark, tore their clothes as a sign of mourning and exited the synagogue.
Hundreds of girls are also barricaded in Neve Dekalim's Ashkenazi synagogue, where troops are also preparing for action.
At Gan Or, IDF forces burst through the doors of the settlement’s synagogue, where dozens had holed themselves in. The IDF sent a small force into the area which has begun clearing the synagogue of people and their personal belongings. Evacuees were boarded onto waiting buses.
Earlier Thursday, a huge number of forces reached Kfar Darom, considered a stronghold of anti-pullout resistance. A force comprising 750 police officers made its way to the settlement in order to reinforce the presence of security forces there.
The troops marched into the community carrying wooden bats, marking the first time forces have resorted to such measures. Other forces sealed off the area, while more troops and armored forces created a divide between Kfar Darom and the nearby Palestinian village of Dir al-Balah.
IDF Central Command Head Dan Harel also arrived in Kfar Darom and expressed his hope that the evacuation would be completed by Thursday evening.
"The meeting with the settlers is not easy, because the experience we are all going through is not easy," he said. "The soldiers are deployed across the entire area and we'll remove all the people from here slowly and cautiously."
Massive show of force at Kfar Darom (Photo: AFP)
Security forces said anyone in the community who is not a resident will be captured and removed from the settlement shortly aboard buses.
Reporting from the field:
Ilan Marciano, Kfar Darom
Hanan Greenberg, Kfar Darom
Efrat Weiss, Neve Dekalim
Ronny Sofer, Neve Dekalim
Aya Ben-Amos, Shirat HaYam
Ahiya Raved, Kfar Yam
Yaron Brenner, Neve Dekalim
Miri Chason, Netzer Hazani
Roee Nahmias, Gan-Or
Attila Somfalvi, with troops in the field