Israeli settlers have broken into an abandoned Israeli military base in the West Bank's Jordan Valley and established a new unauthorized outpost there.
Most of the buildings on the base, which is known as Camp Gadi, and is on Route 90, the main highway running through the Jordan Valley, had already been destroyed. The settlers broke into six buildings that were still standing, however, each of which contains two apartments. Twelve families have apparently taken up residence in them.
Last year, a group of left-wing activists petitioned the High Court of Justice for an order requiring that Israeli security services prevent the establishment of outpost there. The petition was prompted by the discovery of plans for such an outpost that made the rounds on social media. The petitioners acknowledged the unusual timing of their legal action, which was filed in opposition to an outpost that had not yet actually been established at that point.
In response to the petition, the Jordan Valley Regional Council, which is the local government for the area, said it had no intention of establishing an outpost at the site. The petitioners then agreed to withdraw their petition.
About two weeks ago, the state informed the High Court that settlers had indeed entered the site, which it said is state-owned land, but the state added that there is no master plan for the the site and any residential community to be set up there could therefore not be authorized. The Israeli Civil Administration for the West Bank has issued a stop-work order against the settlers, who have been renovating the buildings and constructing infrastructure.
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A visit to the site revealed that the settlers had hung up a sign there indicating that there is a pre-army program for army recruits there. A number of religious families could be seen moving around the former base. The gate to the base has been locked from the inside, and a security guard has been designated to keep outsiders away.
“I am very hopeful that regional council chairman David Lahiani stands by his word to the High Court and is not involved in this disgrace,” said Guy Hirschfeld, one of the petitioners. “As he himself admitted, he has been involved in the establishment of [single family] farms in the northern Jordan Valley, which have been deemed illegal by the Civil Administration and have sowed fear in a radius of kilometers around them.”
This is not the first time the settlers have established an unauthorized outpost at an abandoned army base. Years ago at the largely abandoned Mevo Shiloh base in the West Bank, an outpost known as Malakhei Shalom was established. Two years ago, the Civil Administration came to an agreement with the settlers and they left the site, but they returned a short time later. The outpost still functions as an agricultural settlement.