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Friday, June 20, 2003

Kol Yisrael Arevim Zeh Bazeh

All Jews are responsible for one another.

Excerpt of account in the New York Times

. . . Many soldiers and police did not carry weapons, and they sought to avoid using force. But every time they moved toward the outpost, clusters of settlers jumped in their path, and pushing, shoving, shouting and wrestling quickly ensued.

Dozens were often involved in the brawls, but hundreds took part in a melee as soldiers pulled down the main tent amid a cloud of dust.

The tense atmosphere would calm briefly between battles. Soldiers would share snacks with the settlers. In one instance, a soldier gave his water bottle to a settler who was dripping with sweat as he tossed wood on a fire that was blocking the road to the settlement.

One protester, Yossi, encountered his brother, Moshe, a soldier, Israel radio reported, without giving their last name.

"We greeted each other and embraced, and continued with our business," Yossi said. "We know many soldiers in the area, and they know us. We cry, and they cry with us, and we are all equally pained."

By sundown, soldiers had removed the tents and demolished the cinderblock hut and an outhouse with sledgehammers. Only a guard post was left standing, but the settlers remained.

"This government is crazy," said Shilo, a student at a Jewish seminary who declined to give his last name. "We can come back tomorrow and rebuild this."

Mr. Sharon's government said it took down 10 uninhabited settlements last week. It also listed five populated ones that were to be dismantled, and Mitzpeh Yitzhar was the first.

Peace Now, an Israeli group that monitors settlements, says that more than 60 have gone up in the West Bank since Mr. Sharon came to power. The government has not said how many will be dismantled, but it has suggested it will be far fewer than 60.

The Palestinians say the road map is clear on the settlements: all must come down.

Mitzpeh Yitzhar is typical of many outposts. It has just a few residents and is less than a mile from the formal settlement of Yitzhar, home to some of the most ideologically hard-line Israeli settlers.

More than 200,000 Israelis live in nearly 150 formal settlements that have been built in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, land Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Adi Mintz, general manager of the Settlers Council, an umbrella group that represents all the settlements, said the protesters would make every evacuation difficult.

"Wherever Mr. Sharon tries to move Jews from their homes, we will be there to protest," he said. "Every place that Mr. Sharon destroys, we will rebuild."

AMEN. And Good Shabbos,