Army Readies to Evacuate West Bank Outpost After Court Suspends Settlers' Relocation Deal

Court had ordered Amona residents to leave by February 8 after extending original deadline, but plan was stymied by Palestinian claims to proposed relocation site.

Settlers build in the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona, since evacuated by Israel.
Emil Salman

The Israeli military has ordered several Israel Defense Forces battalions to gear up to evacuate the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona after the High Court of Justice decided to suspend a proposed relocation plan, Haaretz has learned.

After extending the deadline, the court ordered Amona’s residents to leave the site by February 8 after ruling previously the outpost had been built on land privately owned by Palestinians. A plan to relocate the residents has been stymied, however by claims recently asserted by Palestinians to ownership or other ties to a proposed site not far from Amona.

The IDF intends to deploy additional battalions in preparation for the evacuation. The battalions had been due to take part in the evacuation before the court extended its deadline. Therefore the forces are to be pulled away from an operational assignment so that they may see to the unauthorized outpost’s evacuation.

About a month and a half ago, 12 soldiers from the Givati brigade left the Tzabar battalion, after refusing to participate in Amona’s evacuation. It was only after the battalion commander advised them that they would not take part in the eviction of residents that they returned to their base. They were told that they would mainly be involved in closing roads in the area of the outpost.

IDF forces will be responsible for handling any confrontations that may arise with Palestinians and helping to manage access routes.

As part of IDF preparations, military units have undergone battle training including mental preparation, through meetings with actors from the IDF’s theater. IDF sources have made it clear in the past, however, that the police are responsible for the evacuation and handling civilians at the site.

In the event that the residents don’t leave voluntarily, they will be removed by the border police.

In December, border police were trained at the IDF’s Tze’elim base about how to evict the settlers. The training took place at a site usually used to simulate a refugee camp in Gaza or a Lebanese village. For the Amona training, some of the base’s mock buildings were named for individual Amona families.

The IDF Spokesman’s Office said: “The IDF will continue to fulfill its role in maintaining security in the region and will act to maintain law and order in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] in accordance with instructions from the political level. Changes in the locations of forces are carried out in accordance with situation assessments.”