Israel Demolishes Buildings in Two Illegal West Bank Outposts

13 buildings evacuated and destroyed in Baladim and Maoz Esther ■ 13 arrested during evacuation

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
Demolition in Baladim, June 15, 2020.
Demolition in Baladim, June 15, 2020.
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

The Border Police and the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank evacuated and demolished buildings at two unauthorized West Bank outposts in the northern West Bank on Monday – the Baladim outpost and Maoz Esther, both of which are near the settlement of Kokhav Hashahar northeast of Jerusalem.

A total of 13 buildings were evacuated and demolished, a Border Police statement said. Thirteen people were arrested during the evacuation, and a few dozen people rioted and threw stones, said Border Police.

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Maoz Esther consists of a number of wooden huts and has no permanent residents. It has been repeatedly established and evacuated by the Civil Administration. Baladim is considered a particularly radical and violent West Bank outpost, which disassociates itself from the established settlement movement and has refrained from contacts with the movement.

The demolitions come as the government seeks to begin the process of annexing parts of the West Bank, and a week after the High Court of Justice struck down a law that would legalize the status of settlements partially built on privately owned Palestinian land.

That legislation was approved in February 2017. It was meant to allow the use of privately-owned Palestinian land to build Israeli settlements and to legalize outposts and structures erected on such soil. The law was frozen shortly after its approval in an agreement between the state and several petitioners against it until the High Court ruled on the matter.

In her ruling, Supreme Court President Esther Hayut said that the law "seeks to retroactively legalize illegal acts perpetrated by a specific population in the region whilst harming the rights of another."

A report by the Peace Now organization released last year said that at least 16 new outposts have been established in the West Bank since 2017. These unauthorized outposts have been built on government land, meaning they can be made legal retroactively.

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