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Hermesh between the crosshairs (JERUSALEM POST) By MATTHEW GUTMAN 06/23/05) Source: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1119406734508
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The residents of the marooned northern West Bank settlements of Hermesh and Mevo Dotan are developing a Cassandra complex.
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The residents of the marooned northern West Bank settlements of Hermesh and Mevo Dotan are developing a Cassandra complex.
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The battered body of Yevgeny Reider, a 28-year-old Russian immigrant murdered Monday near the Palestinian village of Baka al-Sharkiya, just a few kilometers from Hermesh lay ready for burial Wednesday evening at Kibbutz Bahan´s Christian cemetery. And the residents of the bloodied communities who have yet to flee had wailed to anyone who would listen that sooner or later one of them was going to die. They just did not know who.
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"I told you when we spoke last week that this would happen. That we are sitting ducks. People are now terrified, we are sick of being Sharon´s hostages," seethed the head of the Mevo Dotan council, Arieh Sintronovich, motioning towards Reider´s coffin.
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Hermesh and Mevo Dotan are the only two settlements that Israel intends to leave on the Palestinian side of the fence after it evacuates four northern West Bank settlements late this summer. Sintronovich cannot understand why the government refuses to evacuate his settlement and Hermesh. Eight residents have already been killed by terrorists on the roads leading in and out of these settlements. More than half of Mevo Dotan´s residents have left the community and almost two thirds of Hermesh´s have sought safer pastures.
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Despite frequent IDF crackdowns on local Palestinian villages, the carnage continues.
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Roni Mizrahi, head of the Hermesh secretariat, trudged up to Sintronovich. He too had prophesied doom last week in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
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In a meeting with Mevo Dotan and Hermesh leaders on June 7, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz told them to "hold on," "let the IDF handle security," recalled Mizrahi.
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"But it´s as bad as south Lebanon in the 1980s out there," said a nearly catatonic Mizrahi. "How am I supposed to look my neighbor in the eye and tell him that statistically either he or I will die in the next year," he asked.
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Both these largely secular settlements were included in the original disengagement plans, but were dropped from the plans last March. The Defense Ministry´s spokesman´s office stated last week that "there are currently no plans to evacuate those settlements."
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For Reider´s family, agony overrode frustration born from unheeded prophesies. As Greek Orthodox priest Father Radwan circled Reider´s open casket swinging his incense, Reider´s partner Tatiana Zaidan pawed at Reider´s face. The dead man, a woolen cap set on his head to hide the wounds that killed him, looked asleep.
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Father Radwan´s crooning hymns couldn´t sooth the family. An Israeli flag was draped over the casket, but it was Russian that the mourners spoke.
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During the attack, Reider´s 16-year-old stepson Andrei Zaidan, though gushing blood from a head wound sustained in the attack, grabbed hold of the wheel, and guided Reider´s van to an IDF checkpoint. A bullet had already hit the gas tank and the van burst into flames, but Zaidan managed to pull Reider´s lifeless body from the vehicle.
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As the bandaged Andrei peered into the coffin Wednesday, perhaps he thought that his cool head saved his own life, and made this open casket funeral so important to this Christian family possible. The stepson´s tears dripped onto his stepfather´s lifeless face. Reider left his partner, Tatiana, 40, step-children Adnrei, 16 Anastasia, 14, Yigal 9, and his baby daughter, 18 month-old Emily.
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The eulogies were uncharacteristically short. Representing the government, Deputy Absorption Minister Marina Solodkin spoke in Russian and Hebrew, saying that although she had never met Reider, "he seems to have been a good husband, father and human being."
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Others, like Deputy Samaria Regional Council Head, Hanan Niv, used their eulogies to censure the government for abandoning Hermesh and Mevo Dotan residents. "My blood boiled," said Niv, "when Mofaz told those residents to ´trust the IDF.´"
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For over a year, people like Mizrahi and Sintronovich have dispatched sheaves of letters and faxes to the Defense Ministry and the Prime Minister´s Office. If the IDF cannot provide their constituents with security, they wrote, then it should evacuate them. "But in his last meeting here Mofaz just warned us against being ´provocateurs,´" recalled Mizrahi.
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The Prime Minister´s spokesman Asi Shariv noted that while evacuating Hermesh and Mevo Dotan had been an option, the IDF and Defense Ministry officials decided that to best serve Israeli security the settlements should remain.
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The Yesha (Judea, Samaria and Gaza) Council and the Samaria Regional Council, which oppose the disengagement, provides locals with little solace.
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In a conversation before the funeral, Samaria Regional Council Deputy Niv acknowledged that "the writing was on the wall for this murder.|
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Yet he said the Samaria Regional Council was "not willing to change its position. Appeasement to the Arabs will not work." Instead of packing Hermesh and Mevo Dotan settlers off to the "Israeli side," of Israel´s West Bank security barrier (where Niv himself lives) the "IDF must be allowed to do its work," said Niv.
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Sintronovich listened and then turned away. Under his voice he muttered to a reporter: "Thank God my son is off to the IDF. It will be safer for him there." (© 1995 - 2005 The Jerusalem Post. 06/23/05)
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