Israeli Security Forces Complete Evacuation of 15 Homes in Unauthorized West Bank Outpost

Police detain three for allegedly attacking officers ■ Six officers wounded ■ Hundreds of religious Zionist youths barricaded themselves in homes

A policeman injured during the evacuation of Netiv Ha'avot, June 12, 2018.
Israel Police

Israeli security forces completed evicting the residents from 15 homes in the unauthorized West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha’avot on Tuesday.

The right-wing activists threw stones and other objects at the police officers, injuring six – one moderately and the rest lightly. Three protestors were arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.

Young people on the roof of a home during the evacuation of Netiv Ha'avot, June 12, 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

A few dozen people also burned tires at the entrance to Jerusalem to protest the eviction. Police arrested four of them and reopened the road to traffic.

The High Court of Justice had ordered the homes demolished because they were partly built on privately-owned Palestinian land. The ruling came in response to a 2016 petition by Peace Now and Palestinian landowners.

Hundreds of young religious Zionists holed up in several of the homes Tuesday morning. Security officials said an agreement had been reached with the residents under which they wouldn’t resist violently and would limit their protests to two of the 15 homes. Nevertheless, protesters entrenched themselves in other homes as well, and the security forces’ deployment was no smaller than at similar evictions in the past.

Israeli security forces gather around protestors as they come to evacuate 15 Jewish settler families from the illegal outpost of Netiv Ha'avot in the Israeli occupied West Bank June 12, 2018.
Olivier Fitoussi

The police finally cleared the protestors from the last house around 10 P.M. after a few dozen activists had barricaded themselves on the roof. 

To really understand Israel and the Palestinians - subscribe to Haaretz

Most of the radical right-wing activists who resisted earlier evictions in Amona and Ofra weren’t present Tuesday morning at Netiv Ha’avot, which is located in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc. This was in part due to their anger at residents’ consent to a plan under which the government will provide them with temporary mobile homes near the site of their current homes, and later with permanent houses on adjacent land that isn’t owned by individual Palestinians.

The government has budgeted 60 million shekels ($16.8 million) to cover the cost of the eviction and the new homes.

>> Israel to raze structures built on private Palestinian land in West Bank outpost ■ Disgusted by far-right policies, some religious Zionists in Israel look left 

“There are very hard feelings. The stupidity is inconceivable,” Orit Noi, a resident who is being evicted, told Haaretz. “Even though everyone thinks it’s foolish, it is still happening. We don’t understand why. When you’re sitting with the prime minister at a meeting and he tells you it’s foolish and everyone says ‘what a stupid ruling’ – we just didn’t believe it would happen.”

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Uri Ariel (Habayit Hayehudi) visited the outpost Tuesday morning. “There’s no benefit in demolishing homes and driving people from their homes,” he said. “The High Court hearing was conducted as if it was in Sodom and Gomorrah, but we won’t give in. We won’t let this keep us from settling throughout the Land of Israel.”

Matan Yehezkeli, another outpost resident, said he had lived there for 15 years, nine of them in a permanent house. “All our children were born here,” he said. “It’s a black day for Israel's judicial system. It’s a black day for our right-wing government, which is supposed to prevent such mishaps. It's not managing to do its job.”

Ali Musa, the Palestinian owner of the land, said the outpost’s existence had prevented him from working his land for years. “I haven't been able to enter it for 18 years,” he said, adding that he was beaten by the outpost's “security people” when the first trailers arrived in 2000.  

On Monday, thousands protested the planned eviction at the outpost, including Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked and Education Minister Naftali Bennett, both of the religious Zionist Habayit Hayehudi party. Rabbis and other public figures have also issued statements opposing the home demolitions.

“Whoever wishes to raze 15 homes will receive 350 on this hill,” Bennett warned. “This is a difficult evening. It is incomprehensible to the residents of the Netiv Ha’avot neighborhood and to anyone who has settled the precious Land of Israel. It’s absurd.

“I cannot recall a legal action as irrational as this,” the Habayit Hayehudi chairman added. “The campaign will not be won until the prime minister abides in full and builds a huge neighborhood here on this hill.”

Residents of the outpost had asked the High Court to waive the demolitions entirely for six buildings that were partially built on state land and partially on land owned by Palestinians, and the government also tried to find a compromise that would prevent the evacuation. But in the end, the court ordered all the homes demolished because they were all built illegally.  

Other structures, including a monument to Israeli soldiers killed in Lebanon, a carpentry shop and a warehouse constructed on private Palestinian land, were demolished earlier.