Temporary Homes for ex-Amona Residents Being Built, Despite Own Settlers' Opposition

The homes are going up - in some sites illegally - even though the former residents of the illegal West Bank outpost say they will not move to a temporary location

Ex-Amona residents' protest tent outside the Knesset, February 2017.
Emil Salman

A number of sites with pre-fab homes are being prepared for the former residents of the illegal outpost Amona, even though the residents have declared they will refuse to move to a temporary site.

The police forcibly evicted the Amona residents two weeks ago; the High Court of Justice had ruled that they had to leave because the outpost was built illegally on private Palestinian land.

The prefab homes are being put up by the local council in the Binyamin Region in the West Bank’s Southern Samarian Hills.

All told, there are more homes there than existed at Amona and more are still going up. At some of these sites as well, the construction is considered illegal.

“Despite the harsh conditions in which we are living today, we will not move to a temporary site,” the head of the organization of former Amona residents, Avichai Boaron, said last week. He was speaking at the protest camp set up at the Rose Garden across from the Knesset in Jerusalem.

The former residents want the government to build a new settlement for them in the Shiloh area north of Jerusalem.

Four of the sites of the new mobile homes are inside the settlement of Ofra, near where Amona was located. Two of the sites are considered illegal; one of them, near the cemetery, is the furthest along in construction, and workers are now connecting about 13 mobile homes to the water and power grids.

In addition, the Israel Defense Forces’ Civil Administration in the West Bank has published a plan for the construction of a second site of prefab homes with 17 temporary structures, near Ofra. Two other sites have been built in Ofra; one of them is below the Givat Zvi neighborhood.

Of the other two sites, one has four trailer homes and the other about 10; these sites do not appear to have proper planning approval.

The Civil Administration visited the sites before the evacuation of Amona when the construction began. But it has not yet acted to stop the construction because it is considered temporary housing for the former Amona residents.

Plans exist to move the mobile homes built on private land to legal sites, say officials in the regional council. The trailer homes can also be used to house the residents of the nine homes in Ofra that have been ordered to be evacuated in March because they too were built on private Palestinian land, council officials say.

Most of the residents of the nine homes have already bought new permanent houses in Ofra, which are now under construction.

Some 20 new mobile homes have also been set up in the industrial area of Shiloh, which is also in the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council. For now, the industrial area is to be used only for “storing mobile homes,” not housing, officials say.

In the past, the Civil Administration has proposed plans to house the residents of Amona there.

Council officials say the mobile homes being put up in Shiloh will be moved to “another location” yet to be decided on.