Evyatar Is the Test of the New Government

Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy
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The Evyatar outpost
Gideon Levy
Gideon Levy

Imagine: A Palestinian was shot to death by an Israeli soldier. In response the Palestinians decide to take revenge on Israel. They build an outpost in the heart of the Kikar Hamedina square in Tel Aviv. The Palestinian security forces help them and send military bulldozers to pave the way to the new settlement. Over 1 million shekels ($307,000) is invested in it, money from anonymous donations, and within a few weeks Kikar Hamedina changes its face: A Palestinian village arises on its land.

The invaders lie and claim that Kikar Hamedina is state land. Israel claims that it is private land. The Palestinian Authority claims that the status of the land must be “clarified,” perhaps it is “survey land, areas whose ownership has yet to be determined. And so arises a new settlement named Tareq, after Tareq Sanober, who was killed by Israeli soldiers two days after the birth of his first son.

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The village of Tareq will remain in the square forever. Every day they build new structures there, 52 Palestinian families are already living there, and there is a mosque and a community center. The veteran residents of Kikar Hamedina are devastated and shocked. They open the windows of their apartments and are astonished to see the invaders who have settled in the middle of the square, on their private land, before eyes that refuse to believe. All their efforts to demonstrate or turn to the authorities and demand to get their land back were in vain. The village of Tareq is a fact.

I remember an interview with settler leader Daniella Weiss two or three days after the attack at Tapuah Junction, during which Yehuda Guetta was killed. With sparkling eyes and sweet talk, as usual, Weiss said she was building a new settlement. When it comes to theft of land, old robbers never die, nor do they fade away; they won’t stop stealing.

At the time Weiss lied brazenly – after all, for the Land of Israel everything is permitted – and said it was state land, although she has no right to invade state land either.

Skeptics are invited to enter the Facebook page of the Kerem Navot NGO. Settlements researcher Dror Etkes proves there with aerial photographs that the Palestinians cultivated this land before the Israel Defense Force took it over in the 1980s.

Several days later I drove to the Evyatar outpost. About 20 buildings were already standing there, and in the center was a huge military bulldozer that had come to help. Uniformed soldiers were filmed participating in the construction. Several officers stood and spoke to the settler wheeler-dealers about a new compromise. One more moment and Evyatar will be there forever.

The truth is that the existence of Evyatar doesn’t change much. The settlers won long ago, and meanwhile 52 families are living in Evyatar. Nobody will ever evacuate 700,000 settlers. And apparently not 52 families either. The situation has become irreversible. But the hills that surround Evyatar are suffused with the blood of at least five Palestinians killed there, and the blood of dozens of others who were wounded by the fire of the IDF, one of the only armies in the world, along with the army of Myanmar, that kills demonstrators with live fire.

In retrospect, the settlement in Evyatar is not important in itself. But the small justice and the right of ownership of the residents of the three villages that surround it must be restored. Above all, Evyatar is the test of the new government. If Evyatar remains, we will know once and for all: a right-wing government, as we suspected; a government of no change, as we feared.

There is no clearer test. Any compromise that does not include returning all the land to its owners and total demolition of all the structures would be another act of injustice. For the sake of the residents who see how Israeli hooligans behaved on their land under the protection of the army, and who were helpless to prevent it, every decent Israeli must hope for the destruction of Evyatar and the erasure of this disgrace from the face of the earth. Such organized-crime neighborhoods must be destroyed, to the foundations.

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