Border Guard officers in Beit Aryeh
Photo: Avi Tzur
Avi Naim (archives)
Photo: Ido Erez

Settlement council head detained over protest

Beit Aryeh residents clash with Civil Administration inspectors arriving to enforce construction freeze; council head arrested on suspicion of disrupting police officer's work, security officer injured. Clashes reported in settlement of Elon Moreh as well

Beit Aryeh Regional Council head Avi Naim was arrested Wednesday morning on suspicion of disrupting a police officer's work, after blocking the entry to the West Bank community together with other residents. The community's security officer was lightly injured in the incident. A clash also erupted in the settlement of Elon Moreh, near the West Bank city of Nablus.  


The settlers, who are protesting the government's decision to freeze the construction in settlements for 10 months, tried to prevent the entry of Civil Administration inspectors arriving enforce the building freeze.


Naim was taken in for questioning at the Binyamin region police station. He was also treated by a Magen David Adom crew at a Border Guard base after complaining of pains in his chest.


Bentzi, a local resident, said that "this is and has always been a law-abiding community. There never was any unauthorized construction here."


Elon Moreh residents said they had blocked the entry of security forces and Civil Administration representatives by sitting on the ground. They were evacuated by the security forces. A Civil Administration official said that the forced had entered the community, handed out freeze orders and even confiscated building material despite the obstructions.


"The residents were organized and sat on the road near the gate, and then the police began beating them," said local resident Benny Katzover, one of the founders of the Gush Emunim movement.


"They evacuated the people, threw them out and entered the community. There is a construction site here, but they didn't go there. Instead, they gave the order to a person building two guesthouses and left," he said, vowing to continue the protest activity in the coming days.

Beit Aryeh clashes (Photo: Avi Tzur)


In response, the settlers launched a protest march towards Joseph's Tomb in Nablus. They said army forces were chasing them in an attempt to prevent them from arriving at the heart of the Palestinian area.


Sagi, a local resident, told Ynet that the settlers have been operating a communications network to organize protest activities. "There is an operations room, and when a suspicious movement is spotted, a report goes out immediately. We have managed to inform several communities about the arrival of inspector, and they entry was prevented."


Security officer: They acted like animals

Speaking from the Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, where he was hospitalized, Naim slammed the security forces who arrested him.


"It was a real life-threatening danger," he accused. "The soldiers came with a purpose, their plan was to arrest the council head as a lesson for all to see. After failing yesterday, they arrived with reinforced forces – dozens of Border Guard and police officers.


"I didn't do anything and they just threw me into a jeep. They treated me like a criminal, when all I did was to come and talk to them," the council head continued. "The worst thing was that when I was in the ambulance and the paramedics wanted to transfer me to the hospital quickly, the police delayed me… Only when I got the council's legal advisor involved they agreed to evacuate me. It was a real life-threatening situation."


Bnayahu Sharabi, Beit Aryeh's security guard, was injured in the clash and was hospitalized at the Rabin Medical Center in Petah Tikva with a leg injury.


"It was a massive assault, I don’t understand why," he said. "They attacked the council head and I arrived to tell them to stop, tried to talk to them without provoking them, but they shoved me. I fell on the floor, I cried for help, but none of the cops tried to help me. I was unconscious for a few seconds."


Sharabi sounded shocked. "I work with these guys on a daily basis, but this time they acted like animals. The only explanation I can find is that they received an instruction of 'at any cost.' There was a major there, wearing uniform, who ordered them to act brutally and incited them."


The Yesha Council issued a statement supporting Naim, adding that "the Yesha Council leaders and the regional council heads will continue to lead the struggle against the settlement freeze, will continue to build the land and are willing to pay the price involved in this."


'I let whoever I want in'

In Shilo, residents were also ready for the inspectors' arrival and blocked all entrances to the community. "Only our friends are allowed to enter," said Yona Tzoref, 61, who has been living in the community for more than 30 years.


"I am here to keep guard. It's my right not to let the inspectors enter. No law has been violated like in the Gush Katif expulsion. This is a cooperative society, our territory, and I only let whoever I want in, just like I decide who to let into my house."


Civil Administration inspectors began distributing construction freeze orders earlier this week. On Tuesday, dozens of residents of the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba managed to drive the inspectors away.


Heads of the Judea and Samaria regional councils decided Tuesday not to allow Civil Administration representatives into local construction sites.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed Tuesday that the construction freeze in the settlements was "temporary".


"This is a one-time decision and it is temporary. We will go back to building at the end of the freeze," he said, stressing that the freeze did not apply to 500 West bank housing units that had already been approved or to public structures such as schools and synagogues, which he said would be built throughout the 10-month period.


Ronen Medzini, Hanan Greenberg, Raanan Ben-Zur, Daniel Edelson and Naama Lanir contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 12.02.09, 10:48
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