Israeli Forces Begin Razing Outpost After Court Rejects Settlers' Ownership Claims

Residents of Ma'aleh Rehavam claimed to have legally purchased land from Palestinians, leading to temporary injunction against demolition; structures in two other outposts slated for demolition.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
Border police troops prepare to evacuate buildings in Ma'aleh Rehavam outpost. May 14, 2014.
Border police troops prepare to evacuate buildings in Ma'aleh Rehavam outpost. May 14, 2014.Credit: Emil Salman
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

Security forces demolished 10 illegal houses in the West Bank outpost of Ma'aleh Rehavam on Wednesday afternoon, after the High Court of Justice rejected the settlers' claims to have purchased the land legally from Palestinians.

The evacuation of the structures was delayed by a temporary injunction in the morning, as the court investigated the settlers' claims to ownership. After about half an hour, the court issued its ruling and the evacuation began as planned.

At least three settlers were arrested trying to block the forces from tearing down the houses.

Settlers climbed on the roofs of the structure and placed barbed wire, tires and logs on the access road leading to the outpost to prevent the Border Forces from entering.

The rest of the Ma'aleh Rehavam settlement will be authorized. Settlers there said they would not vacate the buildings voluntarily.

Ma'aleh Rehavam is one of the three unauthorized settlements in the West Bank in which the defense ministry is planning to demolish structures this week.

A spokesman for Ma’ale Rehavam said, “There is a false conception that settlements mean land theft. For some people, this justifies stealing and destroying Jewish land.”

Sixteen families reside in the 28 buildings in the outposts, which were built on private Palestinian land. The demolition is in compliance with a High Court of Justice ruling. At the same time, the state will retroactively authorize three other illegally built settlements.

All six settlements were marked in 2003 by the Israel Defense Forces as locations where all structures could be demolished. In 2007, Peace Now petitioned the court to instruct the IDF to carry out the demolitions.

Mitzpe Lachish, south of Hebron, will also be authorized.

In the ruling in November, the Supreme Court harshly criticized the state, saying it regretted that commitments made by the state could not be trusted. The judges ordered the demolition of all buildings erected on private land in the three unauthorized settlements and the sorting out of their status.

In Ramat Gilad, six buildings and a synagogue, built on private land, will be torn down. In Mitzpe Yitzhar, one building was voluntarily demolished last week. In Givat Yosef, where seven buildings are slated for destruction, residents also announced they would not leave voluntarily.

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