The sight that will remain carved in our collective memories from the Amona evacuation is the footage of children being evacuated.
This picture of an infant and a baby held in the arms of two police officers graced the front page of Yedioth Ahronoth. On the following day, it turned out that two-month-old Moshe and his brother, four-and-a-half year old Yossef are the children of Elyashiv and Emuna Avi Yona, and that they aren't even Amona residents.
The mother, Emuna, is a member of an organization called Nahala led by Daniella Weiss, whose interests lie in encouraging the development and advancement of towns.
When the government started discussing the Amona layout plan, the female members of the organization felt that the men had grown somewhat weak, and decided to join the struggle along with their children. And so, the Avi Yona family, including their five children, Yehuda, 9, Esther, 6, Ephraim, 2, and the two brothers who were photographed in the newspaper, took a stand alongside Amona's residents on the day of the evacuation. "When Israel screams in anguish, everybody enlists," said Emuna (whose name translates to faith), with complete faith.
As per the guidelines of professional factors, most of Amona's children who were under the age of ten were not on site during the evacuation. They were sent away ahead of time to stay with family members outside of the town and the older children joined them on the day of the evacuation.
During the evacuation, some children regretted having chosen to stay behind, and following their request, they were dropped off with family members in Ofra while closely chaperoned.
On Thursday, the daycare center, the preschool and the center for Talmudic studies were opened in order to maintain a modicum of normality for the children of Amona in Ofra.
The Amona teenagers, about thirty in total, had not attended any such curriculums in the last few months. The Binyamin Council has been closely monitoring them: the boys were given chaperones, who were trained in the guidance of teens following the Gush Katif evacuation, and the girls were provided with a coordinator.
Regarding the decision to keep the young children away, Emuna Avi Yona said: "Some people may have sent their children to their grandparents earlier on since there was a lot of pressure from those with an interest in not having to deal with children during the evacuation."
Emuna, born and raised in Kokhav HaShahar, lost her mother, Esther Galia, 14 years ago, in a terror attack at Rimonim intersection, near Amona.
A few months ago, Emuna met with several of the female Amona residents and decided to bring her children to the evacuation. "If you are taken out of your house, it is important your child understands what you are fighting for. We came to Amona as a family, to bring strength to families. It is just like observing the Shabbat, you don't just bring your wife or husband and your eldest. A family is hosted by another family."
She emphasized that she was not upset with those who kept their children away from the violent sights. "I also told my children: each person should follow his heart during the evacuation, and when her eldest said, 'I will hit a police officer if he grabs me,' I told him that is not the way to act."
While her children were being photographed, she was being carried away by police. But she has no regrets. "This is self-abnegation in the name of our country and the children will remember this as something good and valuable."
And what would you say to those who cannot understand how you could put your children in the eye of the storm on the coldest day of the year?
"I didn't take my children out of the house in this weather; the irresponsible forces took those babies out in this weather. I feel that from a familial and national perspective, what went through yesterday, fighting for the land of Israel, was something we will tell our grandchildren about."
Daniella Weiss, one of the leaders of the settlement movement, could not understand the source of the fuss either. "What is it with the complaints about the cold? If I were standing in the middle of the road, offering free tickets to Iceland, to a couple of parents and their two young children, 99 out of a hundred couples would immediately rush to pack and it wouldn't matter to them, cold or no cold."
"Now take this story and transpose it to Amona. I tell my children and my grandchildren that if we were to happen upon such a situation of banishment, the children should undergo the entire experience as well, and only then would we be able to deal with future struggles that still await us," Weiss continued.
According to Weiss, ever since she established the town of Kedumim and to this day, all of her friends, mothers to dozens of children, have taken their children down a similar path. "These are formative experiences. When a child sees his mother suffering for the land of Israel, he understands that this is a value worth suffering for."
What would such a young child remember?
"These things unequivocally mark their DNA, just like when you play classical music to an unborn child. The baby picks up on everything. The majority of mothers understand that the child is nourished with the meaning of the struggle through his mother's milk."
Fighting without diapers
For Weiss, Amona is a symbol of female empowerment.
"When we noticed the struggle weakening and that the men were not strong enough, we formed an alternative team made of women, who announced they were staying put, no matter what."
However, she adamantly rejected the claim that she brought children to Amona to create a media buzz.