Young girl brutally detained; Video credit: Free use
Monday, March 21, 2022, 9:16 Early in the morning on Monday, March 21, hundreds of soldiers, Yassam (Special Forces) policemen and border policemen destroyed a total of more than 20 buildings, including the houses of eight families, on several hilltops around Kochav HaShahar in the Binyamin region. Two synagogues were destroyed, one of which was built in memory of Ahuvia Sandak, z"l, in Ma'oz Esther, where he was living at the time of his death, and the house that Ahuvia built was also among the destroyed houses.
Families barricaded themselves in several structures and some individuals chained themselves to metal devices designed to impede their removal. Protesters at the scene sent Honenu reports of severe police brutality, policemen not wearing badges, and significant destruction of furniture, appliances and personal belongings. Honenu assisted residents and five detainees with realizing their rights. One young girl was brutally detained and a resident who started to document the incident was shoved away from the scene by policemen. In the course of destroying structures, the security forces crushed a dog under rubble and killed it.
Among the people who came to protest was Avraham Sandak, Ahuvia's father, who pointed an accusatory finger at Prime Minister Naftali Bennett: "[I am] here, after they destroyed Ma'oz Esther, where Ahuvia lived. Several minutes ago they destroyed the last memory that we had of Ahuvia. Bennett, this is happening with your police. Is it not enough that they aren't bringing the truth to light, is it not enough that on your watch the police here are suspected of a terrible and horrific act, and nobody is bringing the truth to light? Now they come to also destroy a bereaved family's last remaining memory, their son's bed?
"There are 42,000 illegal houses in Area C belonging to Palestinians. But a small shack that a righteous child built to express his love for the land and his connection to the holy Patriarchs, that they come and destroy? This is happening on your watch, Bennett."
Avraham Sandak's last prayer at synagogue built in memory of Ahuvia, z"l; Video credit: Free use
The rabbi of Kochav HaShahar, Rabbi Ohad Krakover, came to one of the hilltop communities, Ma'oz Esther, and sharply criticized the destruction: "As you can see, they are destroying the houses of Jewish families adjacent to Kochav HaShahar. These houses are in effect preventing Arabs from taking over the area surrounding Kochav HaShahar and choking it.
"The supposed justification [for the destruction] is law enforcement regarding illegal construction. But the genuine purpose is to facilitate illegal Arab construction that will choke [Jewish communities]. … I turn to whoever can, to prevent the evil acts that are occurring here."