Yitzhar Residents Slam Use of Teens to Demolish Homes

YERUSHALAYIM -
A quieter moment at Yitzhar, at sunset. (Mendy Hechtman/Flash90)

Hundreds of police officers faced off Monday night with residents of Yitzhar, who attempted to block workers of the Civil Administration from demolishing two homes in one of the new neighborhoods of the town. The homes, in the Kumi Ori outpost, were built outside the boundaries of Yitzhar, and in fact were located in Area B, which is under Palestinian Authority civilian control.

Among the Civil Administration workers, according to residents, were dozens of teenagers who had been brought in by a temporary worker agency to help demolish the homes. The youths had apparently not been told what they were being recruited for, however, and residents said that many of them refused to go through with the work. The structures were only partially demolished, and the Civil Administration crew eventually gave up trying to tear them down.

Meanwhile, residents said, police tried to forcibly and violently remove them from the area. Police claimed that the residents began rioting and burning tires, and only then did they respond with antiriot measures.

“The police violence and the taking advantage of innocent teenagers to evict residents and demolish their homes cries out to the heavens,” Yitzhar officials said in a statement Tuesday. “There is an illegal mosque at the entrance to Yitzhar and it has been there for years, and nothing has been done about it, even though a demolition order has been issued for it.

“Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman and his Civil Administration don’t dare touch it, along with the thousands of illegally built Arab homes in this area, but they have no problem throwing [Jewish] families out of their homes in the middle of the night.”

Police said that they acted “in a responsible manner to preserve public order and enable the authorities to fulfill their tasks. Police have no connection with who was [hired to] carry out the work. Police only get involved if there is interference to the workers.” In its own statement, the Civil Administration said that it had taken down structures that were illegally built and did not have required permits. It did not relate to the personnel issue.