IDF to West Bank outpost families: Vacate within 48 hours

The order comes in the midst of a High Court of Justice debate on a deal under which the families had agreed to peacefully leave the outpost by February 8.

By
January 31, 2017 14:48
At least 20 teenagers in one Amona home. Playing guitar and just waiting for the evacuation.

At least 20 teenagers in one Amona home. Playing guitar and just waiting for the evacuation.. (photo credit: ANNA AHRONHEIM)

At least a thousand teenage activists raced to the Amona outpost on Tuesday fearing an imminent evacuation.

In the evening as rain poured down on the hilltop and a thick fog rolled in, soldiers and police stood in the valley below and blocked off the two roads to the outpost allowing access only to residents.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


Teenagers in sweatshirts or jumpsuits evaded them by climbing through the fields and up the stony hill, arriving wet and breathless with tales of soldiers chasing them.

“It seemed like there were 50 soldiers coming after me,” one teenage girl said as she told on the porch of an Amona home with her friends, her cheeks red from the cold.

Some of the activists had placed tires at the top of the road, so they could block the path of the security forces when they climbed the hilltop, overlooking the Ofra settlement in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.

When a few officers arrived to remove them, someone got on a loudspeaker and asked activists to “gently suggest to them that this was not a good idea.” 

Earlier in the afternoon, in a surprise move, the IDF published an injection giving the 40 families that live on the hilltop until Wednesday night to leave their homes.

After that time, the area will become a closed military zone.

“After 48 hours, no person will be allowed to enter this area or be permitted to remain in it,” according to the military order, a copy of which was seen by The Jerusalem Post.

“After 48 hours, every person remaining in this area will be obligated to leave. Owners of any property found in the area declared [closed by this order] will be obligated to remove it.”

In response, national-religious leader Rabbi Dov Lior called on anyone able to do so to go to Amona and protest the evacuation.

“It is if great importance to let it be known that our community is not ok with the destruction of a settlement in our land, and we strongly protest this weakness which will deprive us of the land of forefathers that was promised to use,” wrote Lior.

“Well done to all those who believe and to the activists for this holy cause, and anyone who can should come to this place to protest against this injustice.”

But the publication of the injunction is viewed in the outpost as a technical measure and it is believed that security forces could enter the community of 40 families even earlier.

The evacuation order was made public comes while the High Court of Justice debated the legality of a relocation deal under which the families had agreed to peacefully leave the outpost by February 8.

The HCJ had originally ruled in 2014 that the outpost must be destroyed because it was built without permits on private Palestinian property belonging to residents of the Silwad village. In December the HCJ had accepted the relocation deal.

Palestinians from Silwad, with the help of the Israeli non-governmental group, have since petitioned the court against the agreement. They claimed that the state’s was acting unlawfully because it planned to place the homes temporarily on nearby abandoned Palestinian property.

In court the judges seemed to frown on the deal, stating that they preferred an option on state land. Justice Salim Joubran told the attorney in front of him,  “This deal is worrisome.”

Amona residents told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday evening that it was not clear to them exactly what was happening.

But they believed that if the HCJ ruled that the relocation deal was no longer valid, security forces would move swiftly to destroy their homes because , to prevent activist from attempting to block the evacuation.

“Otherwise there is no reason for them to be here,” said one woman as she stood at her sink washing dishes.

Residents did not seem to have packed their belonging in any of the homes The Jerusalem Post entered. Each one was filled with teenagers, seeking a warm spot from the rain.

Yehoyada Nizri was among those who had open his home to the young activists to the point where it was standing room only in his living room. He feed the activists salad, pasta and potatoes. Two or three of them teens played song on guitars.

Many of the teens sang along to the music. One teenager brought a flute. At one point, cupcakes to celebrate the birthday of a young girl.

“We are the faithful and we have no one to lean on but our father who is in heaven,” the activists sang.

They planned to spent the night, since the HCJ was not expected to issue a final ruling until the morning.

Each new teen that entered the living room, was greeted with applause.

Adding confusion to the situation, was a series of announcement the Amona families made in the last two weeks. First they reneged on the deal charging that the state had reneged on it. Then they announced that they would abide by it after all.

On Monday, Amonda families were among those settlers who rallied in front of the Knesset demanding that the government find a way to keep them in their homes. They insisted that they would only leave if it authorized the Settlements Bill, which retroactively legalizes 4,000 settler homes on private Palestinian property, while offering the landowners compensation.

Amona is excluded from the bill, because of the HCJ ruling.

While the IDF has been tasked with carrying out the evacuation, Border Police will ultimately do the grunt work, with 3,000 police and Border Police officers set to remove 40 families from their homes. The IDF will be in charge of dealing with any clashes that might break out with Palestinians during the evacuation as well as making sure that any roads into the illegal outpost remain clear.

Army soldiers, police and Border Police have already been training for any scenarios that they may face in the upcoming evacuation, including the possibility of violence by settlers to try to prevent their eviction.

The idea of a forced Amona evacuation has particular resonance with Israelis. The clashes that occurred there between settlers and security forces during the 2006 demolition of nine homes were the most violent of their kind to date.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and right-wing lawmakers, have therefore looked for ways to prevent violence from occurring there.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.


Related Content

security barrier wall
May 21, 2018
Refugee says she will never regret leaving Jerusalem's Shuafat Camp

By REUTERS