Avi Biber, a hero

Avi Biber, a corporal in the Israel Defense Force engineering corps, was arrested Sunday after he refused to take part in the demolition of 11 shacks in Gaza´s Shirat Yam settlement where right-wing activists had holed up. Photographs of the 19-year-old conscript shouting “Jews don´t expel Jews” as he was disarmed and led away were splashed across the front pages of Israel´s newspapers, adding to public speculation that troops could mutiny en masse over the looming withdrawals from Gaza and the northern West Bank. Despite facing a court-martial, Biber remained defiant. “Some nine years ago, as a child, I immigrated to Israel with my family from the United States. We didn´t come to the country to expel Jews from their homes,” he told Haaretz.

“When I saw what was happening, when I saw how they were beating dedicated Jews, my heart broke, and my conscience said to me, ´Avi, this isn´t Jewish justice.´” Fourteen people were injured at Sunday´s confrontations at Shirat Yam, and three activists were arrested. The next day, settlers announced they had founded a new community on the site.

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