Israeli security forces on Wednesday started evacuating settlers from an illegal outpost built in the West Bank, reported The Guardian. The Amona outpost is home to around 50 families, some 250 people. This comes only hours after Israel approved 3,000 new homes for Jewish settlers in the region on Tuesday.
The residents held protests as unarmed security personnel entered the outpost. The protestors got support from activists and politicians from the mainland. Bezalel Smotrich, a lawmaker from the Jewish Home party, was in Amona on Wednesday to support the settlers. “There is a great pain, a huge disappointment. They are uprooting a community in Israel. It is a terrible thing,” he told Channel 2 TV.
Slogans such as “Jews don’t expel Jews” were raised, and some protestors set fire to tyres and trash piles. Clashes were also reported by The Jerusalem Post. Some residents erected makeshift barricades and threw stones at the security forces.
The Supreme Court of the country had given the government time till February 8 to evacuate the settlers in Amona. In its 2014 verdict, the court had ruled that the settlement was built on private Palestinian land, and hence must be demolished. The outpost was built in the 1990s, reported AP. Though international law terms these settlements as illegal, the Israeli government had contended this.
This is not the first time that the country’s security forces have tried to demolish the settlement. On the same date in 2006, Israeli police demolished nine homes in the outpost in a bid to evacuate the settlers. “This is a dark day for us, for Zionism, for the state and for the great vision of the Jewish people returning to its homeland,” Avichay Buaron, a spokesperson for the people of Amona, told Channel 2 TV.
The country’s education minister, Naftali Bennett, had earlier called Amona settlers “heroes”, and promised to “build a new settlement” for them. Amona is one of more than 100 unauthorised settlements in the West Bank region. Around 5 lakh Jews live in the settlements.
The Israeli government has also recently approved 2,500 new homes in the West Bank and 550 new housing units in East Jerusalem for Jewish settlers. All the announcements about new homes for Jewish settlers come in the backdrop of United States President Donald Trump’s vow to support the country more than his predecessor Barack Obama did. The announcements were made after Trump took office on January 20.