At 3 a.m. Tuesday, after she had packed up her home, Racheli Zadok painted her
anger and pain with graffiti messages on the walls and the bathroom mirror in
her small apartment in the Ulpana outpost.
The young, soft-spoken mother
wrote in bright orange letters on the mirror, “Look me in the eyes, and tell me
it is I, I who am the criminal.”
On her white living room walls, she
wrote another ironic orange message.
“Danger! There are Zionists
Then she slept briefly, and woke at 6 a.m. to the certain
knowledge that this was her last morning in the home she had lived in with her
husband, Yair, and young daughter, Shani, for the last three-and- a-half
In the misty early morning, as the birds chirped and the night
chill was still in the air, male residents of Ulpana, located on the outskirts
of the Beit El settlement, came outside to the parking lot.
They sat on
plastic chairs or stood. In front of them they saw the outpost’s stone apartment
buildings and in the distance, lay the Palestinian city of Ramallah.
white cardboard sign hung on the gate by the Ulpana buildings. It said, “I built
a home in the Land of Israel.”
The men wrapped themselves in prayers
shawls and tefillin, recited the daily morning prayers and begged God for a
miracle that would halt their forced departure from their homes.
mercy on us,” they prayed.
Even as they finished, however, some 100
Defense Ministry workers wearing neon yellow vests that said “staff” began to
fill the parking lot to help 15 out of 33 families who must relocate this week
to modular homes in the Beit El settlement. The remaining 18 families will move
On one exterior apartment wall, hung a sign, “Jews do not
Immediately upon arrival, ministry staff entered the apartment buildings,
including that of the Zadok family, to pack and bring out boxes.
stood in the kitchen talking briefly to reporters.
A scarf covered most
of her brown hair. Like all outpost residents she wore a black T-shirt that said
in white block letters: “Ulpana neighborhood. We will return.”
hard,” she said, in a tearful voice. “It is very, very hard.”
watched ministry staff members wrap protective plastic around her furniture, she
noted that Friday was her fourth wedding anniversary.
“I didn’t believe
we would have to move,” she said.
She and her neighbors had mounted a
stiff lobbying campaign to politically thwart a High Court of Justice mandate to
relocate five of 14 apartment buildings in the outpost.
All 14 outpost
buildings – each housing about six families – were built without authorization
on land classified by the state as private Palestinian property. But only five
were the subject of a 2008 petition by Yesh Din on behalf on the Palestinian
As a result, the rest of the outpost buildings can remain,
but all Ulpana residents, along with those in the Beit El settlement, have
worked together to obstruct the evacuation.
Last week, Ulpana residents
decided not to physically resist the mandate, in exchange for extracting a
number of promises from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu including the
construction of 300 new homes in Beit El. He also promised that in the future
the state would not write legal responses to the court that supported the
demolition of West Bank Jewish homes.
“But just because we are leaving
quietly, doesn’t mean we agree that we should leave,” Zadok said.
at a small press conference with reporters, Ulpana resident Reut Lerrer said
their departure has not been voluntary.
“They are forcing us to leave our
homes and our neighbors. We agreed to do it this way because we are
people who seek peace. We are doing this [leaving] with a broken heart but with
our heads held high. No one will break our will and we will continue to
develop the land,” she said.
Ulpana residents have argued that the court
decision was a miscarriage of justice because the issue of property rights was
never adjudicated. They have further noted that the outpost was built with NIS
4.5 million from the Construction and Housing Ministry and that its residents
used state grants and bank mortgages to purchase their homes.
residents only became aware in the last year that the status of their homes was
problematic. They have been shocked to discover that as a result of their choice
to act out their Zionist beliefs, they have been painted as
Baruch Kitay recalled for reporters how he had learned as a
child to love Israel in his Jewish school in Australia.
“I learned to
love, respect and live according to the [Israeli] flag,” he said. The one that
had hung in his apartment had already been packed away.
He has been
asking himself lately if there was something wrong with the Zionist dream he
grew up with – of Jews returning and developing their homeland.
Zionism not returning to the land and building? I want to suggest that maybe the
prime minister is wrong and maybe what he decided [the evacuation] is not
Zionism,” Kitay said.
The state plans to physically relocate the five
apartment buildings in a complex technical process that will take a
On Tuesday, it asked the High Court of Justice to allow it three
months to move the buildings off the property. The state hopes that the court
will accept the evacuation of the building as compliance with the July 1
The buildings are to remain empty once the families
On Tuesday evening right-wing activists broke into an apartment
that had been unlocked.
They were ejected and the apartment was locked.