Protesters, Police Accuse Each Other of Violence in Tapuach Evacuation

YERUSHALAYIM -
Protesters at Tapuach West clash with police, Sunday morning. (Police Spokesman)

Accusations flew Sunday between security officials and activists on who was responsible for violence Sunday morning, as police and Border Guards began evacuating the central Shomron community of Tapuach West. The High Court ordered the demolition of six homes (caravans) after leftist groups filed suit three and a half years ago, claiming that the homes were built on Arab land, and that their presence prevented Arab farmers from reaching their land. The community was first established 18 years ago.

That evacuation began Sunday morning, with security forces removing dozens of protesters who sat outside the caravans slated for demolition. Injuries were reported on both sides, with several protesters complaining that they had been struck on the head by security officers. Footage from the protests showed police dragging away several protesters by the neck. Police and Border Guards, on the other hand, accused the protesters of acting violently, and claimed that six officers were injured.

Activists dismantle parts of a structure during the eviction of buildings in Tapuach West, Sunday. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Police said that any injuries were due to the actions of the protesters themselves and were not caused by the security forces. Since Motzoei Shabbos, when large numbers of protesters began massing at the site, over 40 people, mostly youths, were detained by security officials. Another 10 were arrested as they were hitchhiking to the site. All the detainees, except one, had been released by Sunday afternoon.

According to officials in the Tapuach local council, the residents of the community were offered various solutions that would have allowed them to remain within the community while satisfying the claims of the lawsuit, but the residents refused, while the residents claim that the local council “abandoned” them and allowed the High Court to proceed in the direction of demolition, due to a lack of legal protection by the council. In recent days, officials said that the residents had informed the council that they would actively resist the evacuation.

Commenting on the violence, Zionist Camp chairperson Avi Gabay accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan of being responsible for the violence. “Their silence is a clear expression of their hypocrisy. Anyone who injures police should be sent to prison for a long time. That is the only way these people will realize that their behavior is unacceptable,” Gabay said.