The 60 youths who made a final stand by barricading themselves in the Amona outpost synagogue on Thursday left behind a scene of devastation in the place of worship, including swastikas and other graffiti targeting Israeli police on the walls.
As security forces breached the barriers that had been erected to keep them out, the protesters set off fire extinguishers and threw rocks, bottles and other objects at the security forces, before being dragged out. Some 17 police officers and several protesters were injured in the ensuing clashes.
Inside the synagogue the floor was strewn with tires, old food wrappings, puddles of water and other debris. In some places, holes had been punched in the walls.
Bookshelves filled with prayer books and Jewish texts had been pushed up against the windows and used as barricades. Many books were knocked to the floor, lying soaked in water and mud.
The walls were smeared with dirt and daubed with graffiti against the security forces, including a swastika.
One drawing, which parodied the Israel Police logo, featured the Nazi symbol and changed the name to “Ishmael Police,” a reference to the biblical character, the son of the patriarch Abraham, traditionally believed to be the ancestor of Arabs.
Others said “Death to the Zionists” and “Zionists, wait, your day will come.”
While some graffiti was in protest, other images appeared to just be juvenile vandalism, including “the nation wants Milky,” referring to a popular chocolate and whipped cream dessert..
Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev called on police to “bring to justice” the protesters who painted the swastika.
“Whoever writes ‘death to Zionists’ and draws a swastika on the walls of a synagogue excludes himself from the rest of Israel,” Yogev said in a statement.
“It is a disgrace that should be investigated, and the criminal should be brought to justice,” he said.
On Wednesday, Yogev had visited the protesters to give them his support.
In total, 57 people, the majority of them security personnel, were lightly injured during the Amona evacuation on Wednesday and Thursday and taken to Jerusalem hospitals, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said. Of them, 42 were police and border guards and 15 were protesters, MDA said.
The injuries ranged from hypothermia to light bruises. A police officer suffered chemical burns after a liquid was thrown in his face. Another officer’s shoulder was dislocated during the clashes with protesters, a Hadassah Hospital spokesperson said.
Several protesters were also treated, most for bruises and some for mild hypothermia, the hospital said.
Several of the youths who were pulled out of the synagogue later broke windows on the bus they were put on and tried to escape.
A spokesperson for the outpost initially said that none of the people inside the synagogue were from Amona. However, he later acknowledged that a number of Amona residents, including the outpost’s rabbi, Yair Frank, and community leader Avichai Boaran, were inside the synagogue at the time of the clashes.
He said that they were only there “with the intention of convincing [the protesters] to leave without violence.”