I guess it was too much to expect that some serious misbehavior wouldn't occur during the pullout. The problem is, it's hard to know what to believe. By now, everyone knows about the acid lie, started not by the media but by the general in charge of Israel's southern front, Dan Harel. Today's story, courtesy of Chief of Staff Dan Halutz, was a molotov cocktail thrown at an army vehicle. It was all over the Jerusalem Post and Ha'aretz a few hours ago. Now it's gone. The "acid" turned out to be paint thinner and the "molotov cocktail" was the torching of an (occupied!) IDF truck by Jewish "activists."
Note: Neither of these incidents is acceptable. Neither is excusable. No protester has the right to put a soldier's life or health at risk. Let me be perfectly clear about that. But I'm looking at all of the news out of Israel with a jaundiced eye now, wondering if I can trust it, waiting for the true story to emerge.
Similarly, Arutz Sheva has been running stories of government misbehavior and political machinations that haven't shown up anywhere else. Odd, that.
Now we have this, again from Arutz Sheva:
Two residents of the Gush Katif community of Shirat HaYam, who returned to their homes to pack up their possessions, have blockaded themselves inside their homes.
Negotiation teams and security forces rushed to the location.
Shirat HaYam activists Nadia Matar and Noam Livnat have called upon residents to attempt to return to their homes.
Nadia Matar, as a rule, does more harm than good to any cause she's involved with. It's a pity, because I usually agree with her causes. Those two residents, it's reported, took advantage of the situation and grabbed an army rifle. Fortunately, they later gave it up.
And then there are the shenanigans playing out up north. According to this article in Ha'aretz (yes, consider the source, and see below), many of the residents of Homesh, a largely secular community, sorrowfully vacated their homes weeks ago and moved to Kibbutz Yad Hannah. Now religious settlers from outside have come in and taken over their empty dwellings, determined to make a militant stand against the army. According to Ha'aretz,
Veterans versus newcomers; these seeking to leave in a dignified manner, and those seeking to fight for their right to stay on the land at any price. Different desires and different worldviews stemming from the fact that most of the veterans are secular, whereas all the newcomers are religious. In less than two months, the newcomers have managed to reshape modes of life in the community. The pool is gender segregated; the settlement's roads are closed on Shabbat. Veterans felt their community was being conquered by dark forces. They had chosen to obey the evacuation laws without a hint of rebellion. The newcomers cut the surrounding security fence to allow in infiltrators, and spread nails on the access roads to stymie evacuation vehicles. Veterans decided to fight back in an effort to preserve what had been the character of their settlement since its establishment.
This account, unsurprisingly, is somewhat misleading. While Homesh was founded by and consisted largely of secular families up until 2001, a series of terror attacks that year drove many residents away. Orthodox families moved in to pick up the slack and man the barricades, long before the disengagement plan was even a twinkle in Sharon's eye. They founded a yeshiva and lived peacefully alongside their secular neighbors. So this isn't a battle between the secular and religious so much as between committed members of a community and outsiders with an agenda.
These outsiders and their dangerous games have gone too far. I've been cutting them a lot of slack -- perhaps too much. Those who live in Judea and Samaria do have a stake in making the pullout as difficult as possible. They see their own communities as the next to go. They see their actions today as defending their own homes against yet another retreat tomorrow. I get that. But this battle is lost. The level of violence is increasing. And the patience of the Israeli population with these antics is wearing very thin. The protests are starting to backfire, starting, with the ugly scenes broadcast from Kfar Darom Thursday, to turn sympathizers into antagonists.
Part of the battle is knowing when you've played out your hand, when to bluff and when to fold and retreat to fight another day. As someone said earlier today, this isn't Massada. It's over. Time to move on. The volunteer mercenaries will get no further sympathy from me.