Opposition leader Isaac Herzog on Thursday slammed the violent protesters who were forcibly removed from the Amona outpost synagogue earlier in the day, comparing them to the radical Jews responsible for the Duma firebombing in July 2015, in which a Palestinian infant and his parents were killed.
Dozens of protesters had made the synagogue their last stand after over a day of evictions from the illegal outpost starting Wednesday afternoon, with heavy clashes marring what police and others had hailed as a mostly orderly operation. The violence was widely condemned across the political spectrum, including by right-wing leaders.
Herzog’s condemnation, however, was the harshest.
“There’s a direct line between the violent rioters that we saw in the last hours of Amona and the underground movement that carried out the Duma massacre. A group of outlaws, with no connection to the law-abiding Amona residents and other settlers,” he said in a statement.
In July 2015, a firebomb attack on the home of the Dawabsha family in the West Bank village of Duma led to the immediate death of toddler Ali Saad Dawabsha. Parents Riham and Saad succumbed to their wounds in the hospital within weeks of the attack. Five-year-old Ahmed, Ali’s brother, was badly hurt in the firebombing and faces a long rehabilitation.
Two Jewish suspects, 22-year old Amiram Ben-Uliel of Jerusalem and an unnamed minor, have been charged in the attack.
“I said before this painful evacuation, we cannot allow violence of any time, especially not against police officers who are our sons,” Herzog said. “We must all come together at this time and protect democracy and the rule of law.”
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) earlier on Thursday branded the protesters as “hooligans.”
In a few chaotic minutes of violence on Thursday, during which 17 police officers and several protesters were lightly injured, security forces evacuated dozens of protesters from the synagogue at the West Bank outpost, drawing the evacuation of Amona to a close.
“The protesters inside the barricaded synagogue are unworthy hooligans who hold Judaism in contempt and have no respect for religion, the synagogue or rabbis,” Erdan said.
Lawmakers from the Jewish Home party, which has led the settler cause, also condemned the youths, with MK Moti Yogev saying that such acts were a “desecration of God’s name.”
“The central question is whether an act sanctifies God’s name or desecrates God’s name,” he said, according to the Walla news website.
“The demolition of the Amona settlement is undoubtedly a desecration of God’s name and must be protested. But raising a hand against a soldier or policeman, and the violent behavior of some in the synagogue against our brothers the police and the sanctity of a synagogue, are a desecration of God’s name.”
Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich, who has a reputation for incendiary comments, also condemned the violence, saying the protesters crossed a “red line.”
Smotrich, who was in Amona on Wednesday to show solidarity with the residents, posted on his Twitter account, “Harming police is crossing a red line.”
“We stayed very far away from that during this whole painful evacuation. What a shame that a small minority did it in the end and harmed this just and necessary struggle.”
Hours of unsuccessful negotiations had preceded the forced evacuation of the synagogue, the final building to be cleared at the outpost after the 40 homes of its residents were evacuated on Wednesday and earlier Thursday.