Gov't. Forces Confiscate Bulldozer in Tzofim

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TZOFIM, Israel - Acting on orders of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Civil Administration inspectors accompanied by Border Police arrived in Tzofim on Tuesday to confiscate a bulldozer being used in a sewage project.

Tzofim, located in the mountains of northern Samaria, is about a mile east of the green line, just north of the Jewish community of Alfei Menashe and not far from the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Kalkilyah.

According to eyewitnesses, the violence started when residents tried to prevent inspectors from removing the bulldozer.

"[Government forces] violently threw children and adults onto the sidewalks," one eyewitness reported.

Tzofim resident Yitzhak Basel said the community had secured all the necessary permits for the project before the government-imposed moratorium began.

"[The] objective of the [government's] operation was simply to provoke," Basel said. "We told them we were working legally, but they weren't willing to listen," he said. "They simply brought reinforcements."

"The inspectors came and took equipment being used legally," Basel said. "They loaded it onto a truck, and we tried to prevent them from leaving," he said.

Police arrested three residents for allegedly assaulting police officers, two charged with injuring a Border policewoman who was transported to Meir Hospital with moderate injuries.

When Gila Slonim arrived home after work, she found the gate to Tzofim locked.

"I left the car and walked in. I saw the bulldozer in back of a huge truck. It was backing into people full force. It was the most frightening thing I've ever seen in my life," she said.

"There was a lot of violence and beating up of women and children," Slonim said.

Samaria Residents Council chairman Gershon Mesika sent a message to IDF Central Command head Maj.-General Avi Mizrachi.

"The administration knows full well that the crane was working on a site where construction had begun before the freeze order was issued," the message read.

"It is simply shocking that because of Barak's political whims, officers are being instructed to injure innocent civilians," Mesika said.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, YNet news

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