The army and Border Police on Thursday evicted three Palestinian families from an unfinished building they had moved into earlier in the day in a neighborhood that is currently under construction in the Jewish settlement of Modi'in Illit.
Yonatan Pollak, a member of Anarchists against Walls, told The Jerusalem Post that the army ordered the families to leave the building for security reasons, but did not show them a document authorizing the order.
The families entered the building at 11 a.m. and remained there until 4:30 p.m., when the security forces bundled them into a truck and dropped them off near their homes in nearby Bil'in.
The neighborhood, known as Matityahu East, is being built according to an outline plan that has not been approved by Israeli planning authorities and, therefore, according to illegal building permits. The question of the legality of the neighborhood is the subject of a petition to the High Court of Justice, which has issued an interim injunction halting construction on the site and prohibiting any more Jewish families from moving into the apartments that are finished.
The State Attorney's Office has also ordered a police investigation into how the permits were issued when the outline plan was not approved.
The Palestinian families maintain that the building they moved into was built on land that is privately owned by a resident of the Palestinian village. Muhammad el-Khatib, a member of the Bil'in Committee Against the [Separation] Wall and the Settlements was one of the 10 Palestinians who moved in. He told the Post that the woman, whom he identified as Rabiha, had rented the building to the three families.
He also maintained that according to Israeli and Jordanian law, any structure standing on privately owned land belonged to the owner of the land.
Asked before the eviction how long he intended to stay in the building, El-Khatib replied, "We have come to stay."
Pollack hailed the aborted move as "a historic event." "The Palestinians are no longer afraid to reclaim their lands, even inside Jewish settlements," he said.
The families had brought an electricity generator and kitchen equipment with them.