Israel Evacuates Half of Ulpana Families

By 2:30 P.M., half of the 33 families had moved into temporary caravans; movers hired by the Defense Ministry began packing residents' belongings.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Israel began evicting the residents of Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood in the Beit El settlement early on Tuesday morning, under a plan which will see 33 families evacuated to a temporary neighborhood prepared inside a military base.

By 2:30 P.M., half of the 33 families had moved into prefabricated temporary housing structures. A vehicle belonging to the local council collected tires that had been spread out throughout the neighborhood in preparation for the eviction.

Earlier in the day, movers hired by the Ministry of Defense began packing residents' belongings, while residents wore t-shirts saying they have been forced from their homes, and "we will return."

Under the agreement, reached between Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed, the rabbi of the Ulpana neighborhood families, the residents will leave their homes without stirring up disturbances and move to a temporary compound prepared for them in the Binyamin Regional Brigade base. Eventually, a nearby Border Police base, comprising 4.5 acres of state land, will be evacuated and annexed to Beit El, and 300 apartments will be built there.

A number of families announced that they will refuse to leave the settlement. They are being pressured to not perform too brazen an act of civil disobedience, so as to avoid embarrassing Rabbi Melamed.

At any rate, the houses are to be cleared out completely by Thursday, when they will be sealed.

On Monday, the residents asked that people stop calling the eviction an evacuation by consent, asking that the fact that they are being forced to leave their homes be stressed.

According to the High Court's ruling, the demolition order must be completed by July 1, meaning that the units must be destroyed and not merely sealed. To avoid this, the state is expected to appeal the High Court for a three-month stay, in order to allow time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's promise to disassemble the houses to be met.

If the court does grant the state's request, as it is expected to, the three months will be used to asses whether or not the plan to take apart the houses and put them back together again in a new location that will be prepared for that purpose is feasible. If it is found to be, the state will ask for another stay to perform the feat.

Read this article in Hebrew

Residents of Beit El's Ulpana neighborhood pray together, June 19, 2012.Credit: Emil Salman

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