Amona expulsion completed
After more than 24 hours, 42 families and more than 1,000 activists removed from Amona, concluding a tense-filled evacuation, marked by violence and arrests which left more than 60 officers wounded; activists used pepper spray, threw rocks, fire extinguishers and wooden planks at the policemen, prompting them to respond with firehoses.
The Amona evacuation reached a dramatic conclusion after more than 24 hours Thursday afternoon after police breached the outpost's synagogue and removed the last remaining protestors who had barricaded themselves in, armed with bleach and other objects used to violent effect.
Upon entering the synagogue after removing the steel blocks placed at the entrance—a process that took an hour and a half—the policemen were greeted by a barrage of stones, wooden planks and fire extinguishers, leaving at least 17 of them wounded.
The security forces responded to the violence by spraying the youths with firehoses to prevent them from approaching and causing any further damage.
Prior to this, smoke was also seen billowing above the building, which police found to contain obstacles at every entrance laid by the protestors.
After clearing the synagogue of the people, police officers removed all religious articles such as prayer books and Torah scrolls.
Shortly after the ordeal had concluded, the police said that the rioters had sprayed them with pepper spray, inflicting a handful of light injuries.
Since the evacuation got underway on Wednesday morning, more than 60 police officers sustained injuries in the clashes. Moreover, a total of 42 families were evacuated while more than 1,000 rioters were removed. Thirteen young protestors were arrested
Officers at the scene ran out of patience by the afternoon after hours-long efforts to convince the remaining resistors to leave the synagogue peacefully proved futile, therefore dashing any last glimmers of hope for the residents and protestors still harboring residual optimism that the court-ordered evacuation could be prevented.
After a full day of bitter standoff characterized by physical clashes with police, hundreds of youths began congregating at the synagogue overnight Wednesday and in a caravan adjacent to the synagogue where they remained throughout Thursday morning, stocked up, ready and waiting with ‘surprises’ in a desperate final effort to repel the police.
The surprises consisted of, among other things, paint-filled parcels and bleach ready to be thrown at the approaching forces from behind improvised fortifications.
At 9am, policemen began closing in on the synagogue and blocking all roads leading to it as they prepared to remove the last 100 protesters remaining inside the building. The security personnel also spent hours communicating messages to the activists designed to calm anxiety and concerns.
Prior to the final operation, security teams managed to extricate all barricaded individuals from the caravan next to it by 12:30pm.
Almost immediately after surrounding the synagogue, police were splashed with various substances while media crews also found themselves on the receiving end of the violent rioters’ anger as open windows spat forth a combination of the prepared ‘surprises.’
Yair Frank, the rabbi of Amona, arrived at the synagogue to speak to the security forces and the activists assembled inside in an effort to avert yet another clash.
“I came here to be in the synagogue in the last moments,” Rabbi Frank said.
In the small hours of Thursday morning, food was passed through windows to the people inside the synagogue, as they energized themselves to face the police.
The police announced that it was continuing its efforts to conduct a dialogue with the people, “out of a desire to implement the evacuation with their agreement so as to avoid evacuation with force on the one hand, and at the same time preserving the holiness of the site. We still hope that these efforts will yield fruit and the evacuation will end peacefully.”
Shortly after midnight, police forced their way into the home of Avichai Buaron, who led the Amona struggle, where they faced a feeble resistance in stark contrast to that put up in other buildings where they were forced to cut through chains.
The High Court of Justice accepted a petition by human rights group Yesh Din on Wednesday canceling the Amona compromise agreement.
The court determined that the agreement reached between the settlers and the government is null and void, since it states that the evacuated settlers will be moved to land belonging to Palestinians.
On another note, Prime Minister Netanyahu vows to establish a new settlement 'as soon as possible' to make up for demolished Amona.
The evicted residents are currently staying at a school in the nearby settlement of Ofra. It is unclear how long they will remain in these makeshift conditions, and where they will go to until new homes have been built for them.
Teams from the Defense Ministry entered the outpost Thursday evening to package and containerize all the residents’ personal effects, which will be warehoused until the residents tell them where to ship it.
Elisha Ben Kimon, Yoav Zitun, Roi Yanovsky, Omri Efraim, Yoni Ariel/TPS and AP contributed to this article.