Fears of Violence as Israeli Settlers Amass in West Bank Outpost Ahead of Evacuation

12 soldiers refuse to participate in the evacuation as Amona residents say they want peaceful protests and settler youths say otherwise.

Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger
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Israeli youth settlers block, with tires, the entrance of the settlement outpost of Amona on December 15, 2016, which was established in 1997, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Israeli youth settlers block, with tires, the entrance of the settlement outpost of Amona on December 15, 2016, which was established in 1997, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. Credit: JACK GUEZ/AFP
Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger

Hundreds of Israeli settler youths, mostly teenagers, amassed over the weekend at the illegal West Bank outpost of Amona ahead of its much anticipated evacuation.

The youths arrived at the behest of local settlers, who called on supporters to join them in protesting the settlement's evacuation, scheduled for later this week.

Nonetheless, Amona's settlers repeatedly stress that they will not take responsibility for any violence that plays out when Israeli soldiers come to fulfill orders from Israel's top court.

The outpost, which was built on privately-owned Palestinian land, must be evacuated by December 25, by order of the High Court of Justice.

A group of twelve Israeli soldiers from the Givati battalion left their posts Saturday evening, saying they were refusing to participate in the evacuation. They were taken back to base and talked to their commanders before returning to duty. The IDF said that they would not be taking part in the evacuation itself, but would instead be tasked with blocking roads in the area.

Moreover, while the 40 families living in the West Bank outpost say they themselves will not use violence to prevent the evacuation, many of the youths who arrived at the settlement say they will.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday called on Amona residents to avoid using force against Israel Defense Forces soldiers and members of the Israel Police whose job it is to evacuate them.

A leader of the Amona protests held a talk with the youths that came to the outpost, asking they each find a home to stay in during the evacuation. He said they believe that some 30-50 youths will be in place in each of Amona's structures on the day of the evacuation. He instructed the youths to document cases of violence by security forces towards settlers as well as images of "crying children." The youths were further instructed to continue struggling even after they security forces load them onto buses.

At this stage, access routes to the settlement are still open, but residents say they believe they will be blocked ahead of the evacuation itself to prevent additional settlers from arriving at the outpost.

No date has been set for the evacuation, but settlers say they expect it later this week.

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