Migron Graffiti (370).
(photo credit:Tovah Lazaroff)
It took less than eight hours for Border Police to peacefully evacuate all 50
families living in the Migron outpost on Sunday, thereby ending a decade of
battles the West Bank residents had waged to keep their homes.
families left of their own volition or police nonviolently removed
Minor violence, however, broke out in two parts of the outpost as
settlement activists from other places clashed with police. They barricaded
themselves in one home and manned the roof of the other.
them out and bused them out of the area.
Eight of the activists were
arrested for assaulting officers.
As the afternoon heat waned, Defense
Ministry workers clogged the small community’s roads with moving vans and
A large orange crane stretched across the black tar
parking lot and basketball court, where settlers over the years held countless
rallies in support of the outpost. Their struggle was often billed as a symbolic
stage on which settlers waged a battle to retain their communities.
Sunday night, however, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said the demolition of
Migron was a matter of law, and not a political statement about the future of
the settlement movement.
“We have an obligation to respect the rule of
law and an obligation to strengthen settlements,” Netanyahu said at a dedication
ceremony for a district court in Lod. “There is no contradiction between these
Respect for the law is a clear principle that he has stood
by, even in these sensitive times, Netanyahu said.
“I welcome the fact
that the matter of Migron, like that of Ulpana [an outpost on the outskirts of
the Beit El settlement] ended responsibly through dialogue and not
This is how it should be and this is how it was,” he
But Itai Harel, a Migron resident and founder, said as he stood
outside his home that the demolition of the community was a political act in which the High Court of
Justice had bowed to the dictates of a left-wing group, Peace Now, which first
petitioned against the outpost in 2006.
The court had ordered all 50
Migron families to leave no later than Tuesday, saying their homes were built
without permits on private Palestinian property.
Last month 17 of the
families petitioned the High Court to remain, saying they had bought the land on
which their homes stand.
The court rejected that claim but said the
structures on Lot 10 could remain until the investigation into the purchase
claim was completed.
In the days leading up to the evacuation, Migron
residents held several meetings seeking consensus on how the community should
react to the order. In the end they agreed that each family should decide for
itself how to leave.
Some of the families left under cover of darkness,
so that by the time dawn broke on Sunday they were no longer in their
Migron residents had been warned that although the court had given
them until Tuesday to leave, the Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria
planned to clear the area by Sunday.
In the pre-dawn hours, police
blocked the roads to Migron. In protest, activists spread stones, tires and
barbed wire across the road by the community’s gate.
But by dawn, many of
the obstacles had been removed.
As the sun rose, Migron families headed
to their small synagogue to recite morning prayers. A couple of the men stood
outside with their prayer shawls. A small group of women gathered outside the
In one of the last normal acts of the morning, children put on
their knapsacks and headed to school, just as members of the Border Police
marched in at 7:30 to hand out eviction notices.
The notices asked
residents to leave their homes with their possessions by 7:30 even though it
wasn’t until that hour that the Border Police began knocking on doors. Many
families were outside their homes or did not answer the door.
spokesman Itai Chemo held his baby daughter and leaned against his car as he
watched police bang on his door.
At that same moment, Migron residents
were planting saplings on Lot 10, one of three they say they purchased from
Many residents had painted graffiti on the outside walls of
their homes, with slogans such as “Migron, we shall return.” One read: “Only the
Likud can. [Menachem] Begin = Sinai, [Ariel] Sharon = Gush Katif, Bibi
[Netanyahu] = Migron,” referring to Likud party leaders who as prime minister
had ordered evacuations of Jewish settlements.
At first, the outpost
seemed filled with families walking around, but then it quieted down, acquiring
a ghost-like feeling, with many locked doors. Police conducted a second sweep of
the homes, forcing open doors with crowbars to ensure that they were truly
Some families waited until the police insisted that they leave
before walking out.
Aviela Dietch, her husband, Shalom, and four of their
six children walked out of their caravan home holding blue-and-white signs that
said, “The eternal people does not fear the long road.”
went to the Ofra settlement where they plan to stay for a few days until homes
are ready at a new caravan site that was prepared for them near the Psagot
winery, two kilometers away from Migron.
Representatives of some of the
families, however, returned to Migron in the late afternoon to pack along with
Defense Ministry workers. The hill has now been declared a closed military
Among those who came in the afternoon was kindergarten teacher Orly
Cohen, who opened her classroom last Monday for the start of the school year,
and closed it on Friday.
On Sunday she held her class at Ofra in a space
half the size. In the coming weeks, her class will relocate again to the caravan
site near the winery.
Harel, the Migron resident and founder, stood next
to his horse pen, set up outside his home. On Saturday he celebrated his
birthday; on Sunday he watched police walk through the outpost destroying 13
years of his life’s labor.
He first came to the hilltop in 1999. But
fairly quickly his home was embroiled in battle. Even before Peace Now filed its
petition Migron was on a list of outposts founded after March 2001 that Israel
promised the US it would remove.
Throughout, Harel had remained hopeful
he would win out; even on the day of the evacuation he wanted to believe that
the families would return to the land. He could not bring himself to pack and
added that everything in his home was as it always had been.
been a very difficult day, filled with emotions of sorrow and betrayal,” he
In the end, he said, he hoped he would return to the land and that
there would be two settlements on the hilltop, an upper and a lower Migron.
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