Israeli security forces demolished two illegal settler homes in Area B of the West Bank, thereby ending a legal standoff that has lasted for over two years.
The move followed a High Court of Justice order from last week that the homes should be removed. The families who owned the homes, Zarug and Gozlan, had petitioned the court to prevent the demolition. They had argued that since Area B is under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority, the IDF does not have the authority to take down the structures.The structures, a 60-meter wooden one and a 40-meter one, were first detected in 2017.Judges noted that there is no question that the structures were built illegally in Area B, so the only issue before them was the question of the IDF’s authority to raze the buildings. They concluded that the IDF has overall responsibility to ensure security in the area where the buildings are located; this includes the prevention of illegal Israeli construction, as represented by the two structures. It was suggested that the two homeowners could seek building permits from the PA, but that absent those, the structures must be taken down.Israeli settlement activity is strictly limited to Area C, which is under Israeli military and civilian control. There are no settler homes in Areas A and B of the West Bank, which are under PA control. The IDF is vigilant in ensuring that settlers do not move into Areas A and B of the West Bank. The High Court also frowns on such activity.Early Wednesday morning, border policemen, IDF soldiers and Civil Administration staff arrived at the Kipa Seruga outpost near the Yitzhar settlement, which is also known as Kumi Ori. Area residents from nearby settlements attempted to reach the outpost to prevent the demolitions. Security forces placed barriers on the roads to secure the area prior to the demolitions.The Border Police arrested one person during the demolition for entering a closed military zone and attacking officers. A border police officer was lightly wounded in the head when stones were thrown at the border policemen as they left the area after the demolition.One of the homes belonged to right-wing activist Neria Zarug and his family. He made headlines last November when he ignored an administrative injunction barring him from Yitzhar.When security forces arrived to arrest him, he chained himself to a metal apparatus.The Kumi Ori outpost where he lives was in the news last year when some of the teenagers that lived there, known as “hilltop youth,” were suspected of attacks against police and border policemen.
Border police starts to carry out demolition at Kumi Ori outpost