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An Appetite to Destroy

David Wilder October 26, 2008
The Jewish Community of Hebron
P.O. Box 105, Kiryat Arba 90100 Israel
Tel: 972-2-9965333; Fax: 972-2-9965304

Last night at just after one o’clock my cell phone rang. When the phone
rings at 1:00 in the morning, at least in my house, something is wrong. Orit
Struck was on the other end, apologizing for waking me up and then informing
me that hundreds, if not more troops, – police, soldiers, the riot squad,
etc. were on their way to the Federman farm, located just off the road
between Kiryat Arba proper and the Givat Harsina (Ramat Mamre) neighborhood,
just about five minutes outside of Hebron. Their goal: to destroy the farm.

The homes on the Federman property have been there for over ten years. Noam
and Elisheva have lived there for the past two years. Every once in a while
the war drums start sounding, with rumors of an impending expulsion from the
land, which the government says is ‘illegally settled.’ Most times, it’s
just noise. Tonight it looked like the real thing.

I was out of the house within about ten minutes. But when I arrived at
Ma’arat HaMachpela, on the only road to Kiryat Arba, I found it blocked by
Border police and metal gates in the middle of the street. They motioned to
me that the road was closed and that I should leave. I pulled out my press
card, which in Israel is the closest thing to a magic wand, and presented it
to the officer in charge. He took it and made a call on his walkie-talkie. A
minute later he came back and returned the card. And told me to leave. “But
I’m a journalist,” I claimed. He looked at me, said “I know, but you can’t
go,” and walked away. I requested numerous times, as did others, a warrant
declaring the area to be a ‘closed military zone.’ Sometimes they responded,
‘there’s a warrant, it will eventually get here,’ and other times, ‘there is
no warrant.’ Others were told, ‘there’s a military operation going on – you
have to stay here for your own good, so you won’t be in danger.’ Some were
told, ‘there’s an armed terrorist in the Kasbah – we have soldiers looking
for him. It’s dangerous for you to be here. Go home!’

The truth was that all roads leading to the Federman farm had been sealed
off. The troops didn’t want the enemy to have any reserves assisting them.

At about 1:30 the two homes on the Federman farm were forcibly invaded.
Sinai Tur and his wife Rivka were told that they had seven minutes to get
out. The Federman family didn’t have such luxury. The troops broke the
home’s windows and climbed in through them. They quickly made their way to
the children’s bedrooms where they shook awake the kids, dragged them from
their beds, beating some of them, and forcefully expelling them from their
home, still in pajamas. Some of the kids went via the door; others via
through the window. Noam was immediately arrested, being suspected of
planning to ‘blow the forces up with gas balloons.’ His daughter Isca, 16
1/2 years old, was also arrested for some unknown reason.

Once everyone was out, the bulldozer started plowing down the houses and
other structures on the property. It didn’t take too much time, as the
families were not allowed to remove any of their belongings. Down came the
houses, on top of everything that was inside. By 3:30 or so, it was over.

The families were left homeless and propertyless. As Elisheva Federman put
it: “they wouldn’t let me take my children’s books or belongings or
mementos. Eighteen years of marriage, nine children – everything we had,

For no apparent reason, except pure hate. Hate for Jews living in Judea and
Samaria; hate for Jews living in the Hebron – Kiryat Arba region; and an
extra special hate for Noam and Elisheva Federman, who epitomize love for
Eretz Yisrael.

The Israeli government, in particular Defense Minister Ehud Barak, (who is
searching for political brownie points to assist him in the now upcoming
election) and Generals Gaddi Shamni and Noam Tibon (who is an expert in
destroying houses – he commanded the forces that destroyed the home of
Livnat Uzeri, whose husband Nati had been, only months earlier, killed by
terrorists in their home,) is intent on making life as difficult as possible
for Jews in Yesha and in the Hebron region in particular.

Late this afternoon a large group of people began work to rebuild the
Federman farm. A short time ago an appropriate response was issued by the
ruling junta: A warrant was received informing that at ten o’clock tonight
the entire area would be declared a ‘closed military zone,’ that cement
blocks would be placed there surrounding the property, and security forces
would remain there to insure that the area remained sterile (i.e.

Earlier today journalists interviewing me did not seem so interested in the
destruction of the property or the expulsion of the families. Rather they
seemed intent on asking/attacking me as a result of remarks made by people
at the site of the devastation. Those comments ostensibly called for the
death of IDF soldiers, and the ‘wiping out of their names,’ and that they
should all ‘be like Gilad Shalit.’

There is a saying in Hebrew that a person should not be held responsible for
his words when his loved ones are still lying dead in front of him. That is
how I relate to the above-quoted remarks. The expulsion from Gush Katif and
Northern Samaria are all still much to fresh and the fate of those expelled
still hurting much too much. It is no secret that this administration has
plans to implement further expulsions, be they in the Hebron area, or
Binyamin and the Shomron. There is a feeling in the air – a sensation
reminiscent of the Rabin-Peres days following signing of the cursed Oslo
Accords, when ‘settlers’ were unofficially declared ‘enemies of the state’
and were so appropriately treated.

The IDF and other security forces are an integral element necessary for
Israel’s survival. But they cannot and must not be taken advantage of to
batter the very people they are supposed to protect and defend. I don’t
believe that anyone has any plans to begin a civil war, but the comments, as
extreme as they are, seem to represent the growing frustration level amongst
many Israelis. I see them, not as an active threat, rather as the mercury on
a thermometer climbing higher and higher, much too fast.

Perhaps those making decisions in the current government should realize that
what they refuse to do to Arab terrorists and their families they are all
too willing to do to their own Jewish citizens, who have not murdered
anyone. And it seems, with an appetite. An appetite to destroy.

Photos of the destruction
Video of the destruction
See an interview with 12 year old Oved Federman (in Hebrew)
Hear Elisheva Federman (in Hebrew)

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