Residents of the Beit El settlement north of Jerusalem gathered for a prayer service on Tuesday morning moments before the Ulpana outpost was due to be evacuated.

Immediately after the prayer service, 16 families from the Ulpana outpost on the outskirts of the community will relocate to modular housing in Beit El, in keeping with the High Court of Justice mandate that their homes must be relocated by July 1.

On Thursday, another 17 families will leave.

The court has ordered the state to act against five apartment buildings and three caravans in Ulpana, which were built without permits on private Palestinian property. The state plans to move the structures onto an authorized tract of land in Beit El, in a process that will take a year.

Residents agreed to peacefully leave their homes in an agreement reached with the state last week. They did so in exchange for assurances from the government that it would build 300 new homes in Beit El and that the state would no longer support the demolition of Jewish homes in the West Bank in its responses to High Court petitions.

Ulpana residents objected to the term “voluntary evacuation,” since theirs was a forced and painful removal even if they were leaving peacefully.

They promised to continue to build and develop Judea and Samaria with the same determination which had brought them to Ulpana.

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