Migron residents evacuate outpost, but security forces fear right-wing backlash
Residents of West Bank's largest outpost handed eviction notices in the morning, operation schedule to be complete by end of day; Israel Police promise to evict by force anyone who doesn't leave voluntarily.
After six years of legal wrangling, the Migron outpost in the Binyamin region of the West Bank was evacuated on Sunday within a few hours.
The residents, committed to a statist approach, left the site quietly and moved to temporary quarters in the nearby settlement of Ofra, where they will remain until their new mobile home complex is finished on the nearby Givat Hayekev (Winery Hill).
After lengthy debates among the residents that ended without a unanimous conclusion, it was decided that no collective act would be performed to accelerate the evacuation, so, for example, they did not pack their belongings. During the night between Saturday and Sunday, however, 10 families left the area, preferring not to witness the sight of policemen walking the paths of the community.
At 8 A.M. Sunday, some 150 policemen under the command of the Judea and Samaria Police Commander Maj. Gen. Amos Yaakov arrived at the site. The policeman walked through the community and delivered expulsion orders to the remaining residents.
Some families seemed determined to remain there as long as possible. During the morning, a family of six was seen eating a leisurely breakfast outside their mobile home, as they watched the Yasam special forces policemen paste an expulsion order on the neighboring home. After giving the children one last chance on the park swings, this family, like the others, left the site.
The residents are being housed in a school dormitory in Ofra. During the coming days, packers from the Defense Ministry, supervised by the police, will collect the belongings left behind and the families will move to the new mobile homes waiting for them.
Throughout Saturday night dozens of young men came to Migron, aiming to interfere with the evacuation. Policemen carried them out. Several of them entered one of the empty structures and five climbed on the roof.
MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union), who was at the site, told the youths that they were saving the honor of Migron, whose residents chose to leave willingly. After several hours, police came and carried these youths out as well. Eight of them were arrested.
“The destruction of whole neighborhoods has become routine, and instead of the Yesha Council [the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and Gaza] conducting a battle in the field, it has disappeared,” said Ben Ari. “If the leadership in Judea and Samaria doesn’t wake up, we’ll find ourselves without dozens of communities and with the government believing it can remove a town like a house of cards.”
Yesha Council chairman Danny Dayan retorted to his critics, “You would think that they were the ones who purchased the Migron lands, erected communities in Givat Hayekev and the eastern part of Adam, in whose merit we will eventually return to upper Migron, and that they are building thousands of homes in more than a hundred communities.”
Police remained at the site last night to keep an eye on the packers and prevent infiltrations. Once the packing is over, cranes will be brought to remove any structure that can be safely removed; the rest will be demolished.
A security source told Haaretz on Sunday that he believed the whole process would be over by the end of the week. The ruling by the High Court of Justice ordering the evacuation gives the state until September 11 to finish evacuating and demolishing the buildings.
At a briefing for journalists, Yaakov, the Judea and Samaria police commander, told reporters that his forces are prepared for attacks extremists might perpetrate as revenge for Migron’s evacuation. However, past efforts by the police and the Israel Defense Forces to ambush young Jews bent on committing violence against Palestinians or their property have yet to succeed.
Those on the left welcomed the evacuation.
“The evacuation of Migron proves that when the government wants to, it can evacuate the territories’ largest outpost quickly and quietly,” Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer said. “If the evacuees have complaints they should address them to the heads of the Yesha Council, who were behind the illegal construction of the outpost, causing aggravation and heavy expenditures.”
Meretz chair MK Zahava Gal-On was less sanguine.
“Never before has it been so clear that crime does pay,” she said. “Every family being evacuated is getting a grant of NIS 730,000 and will move to temporary housing in the winery.
“Everyone welcomes the fact that they left willingly, although obeying the law is meant to be self-understood. But under these conditions and with the knowledge that the Netanyahu government will capitulate to their every demand, they can rest easy. We’ll be paying the bill for their permanent homes as well.”