Israeli Officers Hurt Evacuating Jewish Settlers From Unauthorized West Bank Outpost

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Police at West Tapuah on Sunday morning.
Police at West Tapuah on Sunday morning.

Israel Police began on Sunday morning to evacuate 10 buildings in the unauthorized outpost of West Tapuah in the northern West Bank because they are located on privately owned Palestinian land.

Some 11 officers were wounded during the evacuation, after bleach, sticks, eggs and other objects were thrown at them.The police arrested six settlers for allegedly attacking officers. Residents claim that five youths were also injured.

All the structures in the outpost are mobile homes, but only three of them are inhabited.

The evacuation Sunday comes after seven other mobile homes have already been moved from the site to state-owned land nearby, in the larger settlement of Tapuah, with the agreement of their residents. However, the residents have refused to allow the remaining 10 structures, which are mostly used for agricultural purposes, to be moved.

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The police reported that after its officers were deployed at the outpost on Saturday night, the families living in the three remaining occupied units agreed to pack up their belongings and leave on their own. However, a few dozen extreme right-wing youths also arrived on the scene to protest, some of whom were removed during the night, according to police. 

The evacuation was ordered by the High Court of Justice in response to a petition by nine Palestinians from the nearby town of Kafr Yasif. None of the structures in West Tapuah – all 17 were erected on private Palestinian land – received legal building permits and the outpost has no formally approved master plan. The court ordered that the structures not transferred to Tapuah be evacuated and then demolished.   

Police actions at the outpost come less than a week after Israeli security forces completed evicting the residents from 15 homes in the unauthorized West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha’avot, a neighborhood of the settlement of Elazar in Gush Etzion, south of Jerusalem. All of the homes evacuated and demolished were permanent, stone buildings partially built on privately owned Palestinian land.

In that case too, the High Court ordered the homes evacuated and demolished. A few hundred young people protested the evacuation but the more extremist elements refused to come and demonstrate because the residents themselves asked that the evacuation proceed.