Settlers Camp Out in Six Locations Across the West Bank, Planning to Establish New Outposts

Israeli forces deployed checkpoints across the West Bank to block the settler activists, who want to 'influence government policy,' according to one of them

הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf
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Israeli security forces remove a tent set up by in the West Bank by activists, on Wednesday.
Israeli security forces remove a tent set up by in the West Bank by activists, on Wednesday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

Thousands of activists, most of them teenagers, set up tents in six locations across the West Bank on Wednesday, as part of a months-long plan by the Nachala settlement movement to establish new settlement outposts.

Army and police forces deployed checkpoints across the West Bank to block them and confiscated some equipment. Security forces prevented cars and buses from crossing into the areas slated for the new outposts, but the activists camped there anyway.

One of the outposts, near the town of Kiryat Arba, was dismantled by the IDF. Hundreds of activists have pledged to sleep at the remaining five outposts overnight and stay there over the next few days. Five teens were taken into questioning by police, but were later released without being charged with a crime.

The Israeli military said law enforcement activity continued into the evening, with forces working to remove people from the closed military zone declared earlier by Maj. Gen. Yehuda Fuchs, chief of Central Command.

Soldiers at a checkpoint near Na'ale settlement, Wednesday.Credit: Moti Milrod

"We are going to establish a new community," Jonathan Kellerman, a resident of the Kerem Reim settlement, said as he arrived with his wife and four children to establish a new outpost near the Neria settlement in the Ramallah area.

Near the settlement of Psagot, where pro-settlements activists are attempting to set up tents.

"We do not intend to confront anyone," Kellerman, 32, added. "The soldiers are part of us, some of us have relatives who are here as soldiers," he said. "The goal is to influence government policy."

"It doesn't make sense that the Palestinian Authority is taking over Area C without any sort of [Israeli] enforcement, while Jewish construction is not being allowed," Kellerman argued, "I'm for Israel enforcing the law in every square meter of illegal construction in the West Bank".

Soldiers and settlers in the West Bank, Wednesday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Settler-activists march near Ariel settlement on Wednesday.Credit: Moti Milrod

Activists with anti-settlement group Peace Now arrived at the starting point of the settlers' march near Ariel in order to block the protest, leading security forces to try to disperse the left-wing activists.

On Tuesday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz instructed security forces to prevent the establishment of the outposts, which the Nachala movement has been publicly announcing in recent months. It also led a fundraising campaign, raising 5 million shekels ($1.45 million) for it.

Gantz said he directed security officials to notify those intending to participate in the establishment that the operation was illegal. The police and military issued a joint statement stating that "the establishment of outposts in Judea and Samaria without proper permit is illegal and prohibited," referring to the biblical name of the West Bank.

Israeli settlements in the West Bank are considered illegal by international law, but Israeli law recognizes them. Independent attempts by settlers to set up new settlement outposts are generally deemed illegal, but some illegal outposts have achieved legal status through state recognition.

Nachala is also behind the establishment of Evyatar, another illegal outpost.

Hundreds of activists, most of them teenagers, set up tents in five locations across the West Bank on Wednesday.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

In recent months, the organization held conferences and gatherings aimed at recruiting people for their latest operation. The movement instructed participants to stock up on water and food that would last until Friday afternoon, and prepare for a "long stay."

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