IDF Razes Palestinian West Bank Encampment Despite Being Told It Had No Authority to Operate There

The IDF said the site, which is south of Nablus, is 'on the seam between Areas B and C.' Area C is under complete Israeli security and civilian control.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

The Israel Defense Forces demolished an encampment set up by Palestinians near the West Bank village of Burin over the weekend even though the Civil Administration says the army is not authorized to operate there.

Before the demolition, the Civil Administration informed the IDF that it was not authorized to take action because the land is in Area B, which is under Palestinian civilian control.

The IDF said the site, which is south of Nablus, is “on the seam between Areas B and C.” Area C is under complete Israeli security and civilian control.

Palestinians set up the encampment Saturday, bringing tents and a tin structure to a parcel of land that belongs to Burin and has been the site of multiple clashes between Burin residents and settlers from the nearby outpost of Givat Ronen.

Clashes began anew shortly after the Burin residents set up the encampment, which they are calling Al-Manatir, and Border Police forces under the command of Lt. Col. Oriya Hetzroni had trouble getting the situation under control.

A film of one of the arrests made by Border Police officers shows them attempting to handcuff a Palestinian man lying on the ground. An IDF soldier is seen placing his foot on the man’s pelvis.

The army issued an order declaring the area a closed military zone, in an effort to prevent others from arriving to intensify the fighting.

An officer from the Civil Administration, which is responsible for enforcing building and planning laws, was present and said that since the structures were erected in Area B, only the Palestinian Authority has the right to enforce civil law such as that governing illegal construction.

Hetzroni ordered the encampment demolished anyway and the soldiers began to break up the tents with their hands. Residents of the nearby Jewish outpost made off with the tin structure.

The IDF said four security personnel were hurt in the fighting.

“A violent and illegal disturbance of the peace took place [Saturday] near Burin, south of Nablus, in which 150 Palestinians participated, who threw stones at security forces,” the army said in a statement. “The disturbances took place on the seam between Areas B and C. Therefore it was decided at a certain point to declare a closed military zone due to fear of real harm to the area’s residents. During the disturbances four security personnel were injured and seven Palestinians who disturbed the peace where arrested.”

The army said it was investigating “the confiscation of the tents” and the video showing the IDF soldier standing on the pelvis of a Palestinian man, an incident it said will be “dealt with if necessary.”

A senior IDF Central Command officer told reporters Sunday that the army was ready for Palestinians to begin setting up their own outposts in the West Bank but was still surprised that it happened in the Burin area.

Until Saturday’s incident, the IDF has generally been careful to adhere to laws governing the removal of structures deemed illegal.

For example, the army has ordered the removal of structures built on the portion of the Palestinian Bab el-Shams outpost that is on state land. It has categorized the structures, located in the E-1 corridor linking Jerusalem with Ma’aleh Adumim, as a case of “new squatting.”

However, the structures built on adjacent private Palestinian land were ordered demolished under building and planning laws instead.

For Jewish outposts, there must legally be a hearing phase before demolition orders are approved.

A Palestinian farmer from Burin inspecting the remains of his olive trees in February 2013. Settlers from nearby Yitzhar allegedly pulled them down. Credit: AFP

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