Israeli police scuffle with settlers_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday gave the state six months to schedule the
demolition of the Amona outpost, located on the outskirts of the Ofra settlement
in the Binyamin region.
Built around 1995, Amona is one of the oldest
outposts in the West Bank. It is best known, however, for the clashes that took
place there on February 1, 2006, when the army and the police demolished nine
permanent homes that were built there without proper permits. Some 200 soldiers,
police, settlers and activists were injured when protesters took a stand inside
the homes, and refused to leave until they were forcibly evacuated.
spite of the clashes, the outpost remained intact.
In 2008, the
organization Yesh Din petitioned the court on behalf of 10 Palestinians, who say
that the Amona outpost is built on their land.
The state has long
consented that the outpost is built on private Palestinian land, but the IDF has
yet to evacuate it, and the courts have yet to force its demolition.
Din and its attorney Michael Sfard said they were disappointed by the court’s
decision, which they believed was a tactic to delay the evacuation of
“Unfortunately, the court decided yet again to trust the empty
promises of the state’s authorities regarding executing demolition and
evacuation orders of illegal outposts in the West Bank – erected against the law
on private land – in defiance of official government decisions,” says Yesh Din
Director Haim Erlich.
Attorney Michael Sfard, the legal adviser of Yesh
Din, added, “In this stage of the legal debate about dismantling outposts, the
state is attempting to deceive everybody. It tells the international community
one thing, the Israeli public another thing and the courts a third thing. But as
the saying goes, you cannot fool all the people all of the time. Yesh Din will
continue to assist the landowners until their property is returned to
Attorney for the Amona outpost Yaron Kosteliz, however, was
relieved that the state did not have to respond to the court for another half a
year. He said the extra time worked to the outpost’s advantage because it
allowed him to explore ways to sway the court that the small hilltop community
Kosteliz said that he had a document which showed that the
Defense Ministry, then headed by Binyamin Eliezer, had authorized the
Supreme Court President Dorit Beinisch said that if the land was
privately owned by Palestinians than it would not matter if the community itself
had received the authorization of the Defense Ministry.
But Kosteliz has
separately argued that settlers had purchased the land on which the outpost
stands from Palestinians.
Amona residents have long argued that their
outpost is located within the municipal boundaries of the Ofra
settlements. They also point to an agreement made in 1999 with then-prime
minister Ehud Barak, which would allow them to remain in their homes.