Those of us in Israel have already witnessed harsher and more disturbing scenes in Amona than we did in the whole lead up to and subsequent disengagement from Gaza and parts of the West Bank last year. There have been very disturbing and depressing reports of over 100 people hurt, both protestors and security forces.
There are reports of one Israeli policeman in critical condition and three Israeli members of Knesset among the scores of injuries. It is my impression that this battle and the violence that took place could have been avoided.
From the protestors side, injuring another human being is unforgiveable, delegitimises any political point that is made and it is certain that the Amona outpost is not worth any amount of blood. The settler leaders should have been coaxed and forewarned into speaking and pleading with the more rational demonstrators and this perhaps would have had a knock on effect to the hotheads and thugs in the group. As was shown during the disengagement, the older Rabbis and settler leaders were a very calming influence on the younger more active element.
From the government side, there was a violence to the evacuation that was not seen during the disengagement. Why could the government evacuate tens of thousands of people without any injuries and create over a hundred injuries in an evacuation much smaller. I don't know who threw what first, but the policeman on horses showed the governments intent from the beginning. When horses charge at a group there will be injuries, horses hooves can inflict very serious injuries. Even Tnu Lahayot Lihyot, Israel's main animal rights groups called for horses not to be used during evacuations like these.
The government is obviously sending a message that the law must be abided and when there are no international media the gloves will come off. The demonstrators are obviously traumatised by the disengagement when in the main they behaved impeccably and their dreams were shattered. One can only asume they have brushed aside restraint as a failiure and action and violence as their only hope.
What is needed on both sides is restraint and dialogue; dialogue worked with the stand off in the Hebron maeket. Both sides have to listen to each other and they must find a solution that minimises any confrontation and violence. There will be many potential flash points in the future as the government seeks to establish permanent borders that will see many settlements and outposts evacuated. Both sides must take stock of their actions and see how these violent scenes can be avoided.