Israel's High Court on Friday once again postponed the evacuation of the illegal settlement outpost of Amona in the West Bank, which had been scheduled for July 15. The court gave settlers nine additional days, ordering that structures on land not bought from Palestinians must be evacuated by July 24.
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The court extended the deadline due to the Jewish day of fasting, Tisha B'Av, which begins on the evening of July 15, the school summer break and the Muslim sacred month of Ramadan, which started Thursday.
However, the court accepted part of the state's argument, determining that structures built on plots of land that settlers say they bought, whose ownership is being litigated in a lower court, should not be evacuated until the lower court issues its ruling.
The July 24 deadline applies to the approximately 30 structures on the 30 plots that the settlers are not claiming were purchased.
Amona was established in 1995 on a mountain overlooking the West Bank settlement of Ofra. Most of the land Amona sits on is private Palestinian property. Demolition orders have been issued over the years against mobile homes and other semi-permanent structures on the site in 1997, 2003 and 2004. On Feb. 1, 2006, after a petition filed by Peace Now, the state demolished nine houses at the outpost. Hundreds were injured in confrontations between police and thousands of protesters who tried to prevent the evacuation.
The state had promised in court to carry out the evacuation by the end of last year, but then asked that it be postponed until April and then again until July. Supreme Court President Asher Grunis gave the state until July 15 to carry out the operation, noting that he was going beyond the letter of the law.
In the interim, however, a political battle among those seeking to head off the evacuation continues behind the scenes. Through a company called Al-Watan, which is owned by the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council, the settlers say they have managed to buy four parcels of land in Amona in addition to other plots of land.