Israeli Forces Raze Illegal West Bank Outpost; Settlers Pelt Officer With Stones

High Court rejects petition against demolition, which follows several instances of violence against Israeli soldiers in the area

Border Police and Civil Administration forces arrive at the outpost at Kumi Ori hill, the West Bank, January 15, 2019.

Israeli forces demolished on Wednesday two structures in an illegal West Bank outpost, a week after the High Court of Justice rejected a petition against the Jewish outpost's demolition.

One person was arrested for assaulting security forces during the operation by the Border Police and the Civil Administration, and several others were briefly detained.

The Border Police said that one of its officers taking part in the operation on the Kumi Ori hill, near the settlement of Yitzhar, sustained light injuries to his head as he was pelted with a stone while leaving the outpost.

In October, the Israeli army issued a closed-off military area order after several instances of violence against Israeli soldiers, which culminated when some 30 Jewish settlers threw stones at soldiers and punctured their vehicle's tires, lightly wounding one.

Neria Zarug, who lives with his family in one of the razed buildings, was recently arrested for openly violating an administrative order barring him from the West Bank.

Last week the High Court of Justice rejected a petition against the outpost’s demolition. The petitioners had argued that Israel’s Civil Administration in the West Bank has no authority to raze the buildings, since they are located in Area B – the part of the West Bank that the Oslo Accords assigned to Israeli security control but Palestinian civilian control. Since this means the Palestinian Authority has responsibility over planning and construction in the area, only it can deem the buildings illegal and demolish them, the petition argued.

Yitzhar’s secretariat said it “condemns the destruction of the families’ homes and demands that the security forces refrain from starting a cycle of violence.”

A defense official said that any attempt to harm members of the security forces “will be met resolutely, with zero tolerance, by the fighters,” adding that “the residents should show responsibility and not be dragged into provocations and violence.”

Defense establishment data show a rise in vandalism by Israelis in against Palestinians in the West Bank in 2019, and a defense source attributed the increase largely to a series of incidents near Kumi Ori.

In one incident, a man was arrested on suspicion of arson, while in another, dozens of settlers threw stones at the police who came to the outpost to arrest Zarug.

In addition, several hate crimes were carried out in the West Bank, most of which included inciting graffiti mentioning Kumi Ori and the fact is was declared a military closed-off zone.