Israeli Forces Evacuate West Bank Outpost in Area Earmarked for Palestinians Under Trump Plan

Outpost is far from any other settlement and was moved from privately owned Palestinian land closer to Israeli army base

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
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The outpost that was dismantled by security forces, near Nablus, July 21, 2020.
The outpost that was dismantled by security forces, near Nablus, July 21, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

Israeli forces evacuated on Wednesday a settlement outpost that had been set up meters from an army base in the West Bank, on territory that, according to U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, is supposed to be transferred to the Palestinian Authority.

The outpost, located in a valley facing Mount Ebal, near Nablus, is far from any other settlement. Initially, it was located on privately owned Palestinian land that the army expropriated from residents of a nearby village, Assira al-Shamaliya, in 1978.

This week, however, it was moved to a plot of state land 100 meters from the Mount Ebal base. It originally consisted of a single shack, but a mobile home, tent and truck arrived later. Settlers had to pass through a gate put up by the military two weeks ago to reach the outpost.

A Palestinian farmer at work near an Israeli military vehicle in the area where the outpost was dismantled, near Nablus in the West Bank, on July 21, 2020.Credit: Moti Milrod

The outpost's founder, Yedidya Meshulami, told Haaretz he did so "to continue my forefathers' enterprise," rejecting claims that it has anything to do with the Trump plan.

He said he transferred it to a site close to the army base "out of consideration of the claim that there may be privately owned lands" in the original location.

Ever since spotting the outpost, residents of Assira al-Shamaliya have been holding weekly marches to the site.

The army confronted the demonstrators, on some occasions firing tear gas and stun grenades at them. Following one march, on July 3, soldiers blocked the road from Assira al-Shamaliya to the outpost with a dirt mound. Several days later, the Palestinians removed it so farmers could reach their lands.

Yedidya Meshulami, the settler who set up the outpost, was arrested in 2018 after landing his helicopter at the Qalandiyah military checkpoint in the West Bank. Upon his arrest, he told investigators that he sought to take control of the checkpoint, which is on the road to Jerusalem. “I don’t care what they do to me, I’ll take it over,” he said.

A former Israel Air Force pilot whose license was revoked, Meshulami had already come under the spotlight in 2013 for building an airstrip in Alumot, an outpost near the settlement of Itamar that he helped establish. He had previously flown his helicopter illegally. 

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