Ofra Evacuation Over, Shaked Calls It ‘Disgrace’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israeli policemen remove an activist during the evacuation of homes in Ofra on Tuesday. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

The evacuation of nine houses in Ofra in the Shomron was completed on Tuesday evening, after a day of sometimes violent confrontations between protesting youths and security forces that ended with 11 police officers and at least 17 teens injured, two of whom required hospital treatment, according to the Binyamin Regional Council.

A police bulldozer began the demolition work even before the last of the houses were emptied, and the others were cordoned off.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked lamented the court-ordered destruction: “The land which was fought over will remain empty, and no one will benefit from it. There are only losers [and no winners in this case]. It is a disgrace for us.”

In one home in Ofra, police and protesters, mainly youths, linked arms and swayed in prayer before the youngsters, offering passive resistance, were removed. In some cases, people had to be carried out by teams of police, often in emotional scenes.

Pro-settlement activists sit in a home during the removal operation in Ofra. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

“We feel that this is not right at all, what’s being done here: The destruction of these homes in the center of a Jewish town, in the center of a populated town that was established legally 42 years ago,” Eliana Passentin, a spokeswoman for the local regional council, told Reuters.

Based on initial reports, it appeared that the violence on Tuesday was significantly less than took place at the Amona evacuation on February 2. More than 100 youngsters had protested against the removal of Amona’s 300 residents. Some 60 officers and at least four demonstrators were hurt in scuffles there.

According to The Jerusalem Post, some of the hundreds of protestors actively resisted the police evacuation and interfered with the operation. At one point, they attempted to prevent police from setting up a barrier at the end of a street, touching off a ‘brawl” by the end of which the youths were cleared away and the barrier put in place.