Violence erupts as police evacuate Amona outpost on Thursday, January 3.
(photo credit: BINYAMIN SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu deflected criticism of the violent eviction of activists from the hilltop of the Amona outpost in the West Bank by blaming his military adviser Brig.-Gen. Avi Blot.
IDF Chief-of-Staff Gadi Eisenkot reprimanded Blot on Friday morning and put a command note in his file.
According to a statement from the IDF, Eisenkot “made it clear” to Blot that he erred in his handling of the evacuation on Thursday and should have conducted himself in a more professional manner.
Blot recognized his mistake and said he had learned from the incident, the IDF said.
According to Channel 10, Netanyahu transferred a message to the IDF through Blot at 1 a.m. to halt the evacuation, but the military secretary didn’t inform the IDF until 6 a.m., when the operation was already underway.
Politicians charged that Netanyahu was just backpedaling his way out of a tricky situation.
Former defense minister and Yisrael Beytenu Party head MK Avigdor Liberman said that Netanyahu’s “shameful” attempt to blame Blot was “despicable.”
“One cannot help but frame this as a way to escape responsibility and a desperate attempt to seek a scapegoat,” Liberman said.
Blot has a distinguished record and successfully served as the brigade commander in Hebron, a post which earned him respect, including from the settlers, Liberman said.
Yesh Atid Party head MK Yair Lapid accused Netanyahu of shirking responsibility, noting that this is typical for him.
Netanyahu “is the prime minister and defense minister and he ordered the evacuation of Amona.”
Speaking at an event in Hadera, MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) said, “Does anyone really believe that the prime minister [only] remembered at 1 a.m. that to postpone the evacuation and the military secretary went to sleep instead of handing over the order?”
A group that called themselves Amona evacuees asked Netanyahu to authorize building at the site of the Amona outpost. The original community of more than 40 families was forcibly removed in 2017 upon orders from the High Court of Justice because the outpost was built on private Palestinian property.
Settlers have said that since the 2017 evacuation, they purchased four hectares of property on the Amona hilltop that is located on the outskirts of the Ofra settlement.
“If you [Netanyahu] really tried to prevent the [Thursday’s] evacuation and you did not want it [to happen], sign the approval now of the lawful placement of buildings on the [Amona] land that was purchased,” Amona evacuees said.
They also called on Netanyahu to evacuate the illegal West Bank Bedouin encampment of Khan al-Ahmar.
On Thursday, 23 police officers and dozens of activists were lightly wounded during the evacuation. Several hundred activists attempted to block forces from removing two mobile homes settlers had placed on the hilltop last month.
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