JERUSALEM – Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has directed Israeli forces to evacuate within days a small Jewish enclave alongside the biblical city of Hebron in the West Bank and to use all force necessary during the evictions, security officials told WorldNetDaily.
The order follows Olmert’s announcement this week his administration will seek to withdraw from most of the West Bank, which borders major Israeli cities and the country’s international airport. Olmert’s directions fueled speculation by critics the Israeli official is carrying out isolated evictions of settlers as a tactic to win leftist votes ahead of next month’s elections.
“Olmert knows he will not have the right wing votes. He already has the center. Now he has to flex his muscles against the settlers before the elections to show leftists and extreme leftists he can carry out the Kadima platform of an Israeli withdrawal,” charged Israeli nationalist lawmaker Benny Elon.
Israeli Defense Force officials said they have been ordered to demolish Chazon David, a small Jewish section outside Hebron consisting of a synagogue and a few mobile homes.
Jews have lived in nearby Hebron – home to the Tomb of the Patriarchs, believed to be the resting place of biblical patriarchs and matriarchs – almost continuously for over 2,500 years. It is considered the oldest Jewish community in the world.
Hebron spokesman David Wilder told WND, “Olmert needs these evictions. He needs to show he has the strength of [Israeli Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, that he can stand up to the so-called settlers and carry out a withdrawal.”
Wilder pointed out while Olmert is enforcing the removal of a small Jewish outpost, over 3,000 illegal Arab settlements in the area remain intact.
The IDF sources told WND they have been cleared to use “all necessary force” to remove Chazon David residents.
Olmert sparked fury here last month when he ordered the IDF to use force against protesters during the demolition of nine homes in the West Bank community of Amona. More than 1,500 soldiers and police officers were called up to destroy the homes after the court system ruled they were constructed without a permit. Aside from the homes, the rest of the Amona community was allowed to remain standing.
During the demolitions, horse-mounted police, water cannons and specially trained riot officers faced off against hundreds of protesters who massed in Amona in hopes of halting the efforts.
Israeli television broadcast live footage of demonstrators, including women and children, being dragged and beaten by soldiers. Teenagers with bloody noses and head wounds were seen being removed from the scene. Police were videotaped using batons and gas canisters to clear the area of demonstrators.
More than 300 protesters were treated in makeshift first aid tents. At least 70 were evacuated to Jerusalem hospitals with moderate-to-serious injuries. Three Israeli nationalist lawmakers, including Elon, were wounded in the clashes.
As WND reported, over 100,000 Israelis protested in Jerusalem earlier this month to demand a commission of inquiry into the violence at Amona. Olmert at first refused to establish an investigative committee, but last week he relented.
Olmert this week told the Knesset if his Kadima Party wins next month’s elections, Parliament members will be asked to vote on whether to “change Israel’s borders” by withdrawing from most of the West Bank, including strategic areas military strategists say are needed to defend Israel from a ground invasion.
According to most polls, Kadima is poised to win overwhelmingly.
Olmert justified his plan to vacate the West Bank, which is within rocket firing range of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, by claiming Arabs will soon outnumber Jews and threaten the country’s Jewish character.
But recent studies indicate Olmert is relying on faulty demographic information and that Jews likely will outnumber Arabs by more than double in 20 years.
One study, titled “Forecast for Israel and the West Bank 2025,” found Palestinians have inflated their population figures by as much as 1.5 million. It also said Jewish birthrates are on the rise while Palestinian rates are falling, and that Israel’s own statistics fail to account for even low levels of Jewish immigration when calculating national demographic trends.
Americans Bennet Zimmerman, Roberta Seid and Michael Wise put the current Palestinin-Arab population of the West Bank at 1.4 million and Gaza 1.1 million, for a total of 2.4 million, instead of the 3.8 million reported by the Palestinian Authority Central Bureau of Statistics.
They found faults in the methods used by the Palestinian Authority to determine its population, including counting the 230,000 Arab residents of Jerusalem twice and retroactively raising growth and birth rates while the rates actually have been declining.
The allegedly inflated PA population numbers have been accepted by Israel and were used in formulating future demographic statistics, including those reportedly used by Olmert in formulating a West Bank withdrawal.
“It is ironic that just as we now find Israel is in the best position ever with regard to population, Olmert announces a plan to run away and give up the West Bank, claiming Israel’s Jewish character is threatened,” said Zimmerman.
The West Bank is considered landlocked territory not officially recognized as part of any country. Israel calls the land “disputed,” while the United Nations says the West Bank is “occupied” by Israel. The Jewish state maintains overall control of most of the area while the Palestinian Authority has jurisdiction in about 40 percent.
The territory remained under Jordanian rule from 1948 until Israel captured it in 1967 after Jordan’s King Hussein ignored Israeli pleas for his country to stay out of the Six Day War. Most countries rejected Jordan’s initial claim on the area, which it formally renounced in 1988.
Terrorist groups have warned if Israel withdraws, they will launch rockets from the West Bank into Israeli cities.
Many villages in the West Bank, which Israelis commonly refer to as the “biblical heartland,” are mentioned throughout the Torah.
The book of Genesis says Abraham entered Israel at Shechem (Nablus) and received God’s promise of land for his offspring. He later was buried in Hebron.
The nearby town of Beit El, anciently called Bethel meaning “house of God,” is where Scripture says the patriarch Jacob slept on a stone pillow and dreamed of angels ascending and descending a stairway to heaven. In that dream, God spoke directly to Jacob and reaffirmed the promise of territory.
And in Exodus, the holy tabernacle rested in Shiloh, believed to be the first area the ancient Israelites settled after fleeing Egypt.