Police Discover That Entire Amona Outpost Was Built on Palestinian Land

Amana settler organization accused of widespread forgery of ownership documents.

Tess Scheflan

A police investigation has revealed that Al-Watan, a subsidiary of settlement organization Amana run by Ze’ev (Zambish) Hever, filed forged documents attesting to a legal purchase of Palestinian land, the site of the Amona outpost.

The Amona outpost was built completely on private Palestinian land, and is currently home to some 40 families. In 2008, the landowners, along with the Yesh Din organization and attorneys Michael Sfard and Shlomi Zacharia, filed a petition requesting to demolish the entire outpost. The government responded to the petition, stating that the outpost would be demolished before the end of 2012, and later postponed demolition to June 2013.

Al-Watan is a registered organization in the West Bank, a subsidiary of the Amana movement. The organization’s goal is to purchase land from Palestinians in areas over which there is a dispute within the Supreme Court. A few days before Amona was scheduled to be demolished, Al-Watan officials claimed that they had purchased portions of the land there.

In response to Al-Watan’s claims, the government changed its position on Amona, and instead of demolishing it, divided the land there into three categories: private land whose owners have asked the courts to evacuate, private land whose owners haven’t asked the courts to evacuate despite the illegal land theft, and the lands purchased by Al-Watan. The lands belonging to this last category would be frozen until the end of legal proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court.

Last summer, the road leading to the outpost as well as one structure were cleared off of private Palestinian land. As for the entire outpost, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis has been putting off making a final decision.

Last Thursday, the state prosecutor reported to Yesh Din that according to the Israel Police forensics unit, the documents regarding one plot of land in Amona were forged. It is unclear which plot, specifically. In addition, the owners of two plots filed suit in the Jerusalem District Court over the forgery. The government has stated that it is considering its next moves regarding the forged documents.

This case is the latest in a series of forgeries. Ten days ago, it was determined that an Al-Watan document regarding the Migron outpost was forged. The forensics unit also reported to the Supreme Court last week that a document pertaining to a sale of land in Givat Assaf was also forged. The government has not been clear on what it intends to do with this information.

Haaretz reported last week that Al-Watan systematically produces and submits forged documents meant to obstruct Supreme Court proceedings. Evidence was found that “last-minute” deals for land in the Ulpana neighborhood, Givat Assaf and twice in Migron involved forged documents. Supreme Court justices, however, are holding up their decisions and postponing planned demolitions of the outposts.

Sfard and Zacharia stated in response that “the story of Amona involves a great crime, perpetrated by a small company of criminals, and this forgery is just the latest in a long history of similar criminal acts. Time after time, it turns out that the settlers’ claims of purchase, which always happen at the last minute, are based on forged documents. Despite this, the government allows these claims to hold up enforcing the law, and prevent the evacuation of illegal structures built on private land. The Amona outpost is built entirely on private Palestinian land, and we hope and believe that it soon will be completely evacuated and returned to its rightful owners.”