Police hold major drill before Ulpana evacuation

Officials tell 'Post' that officers waiting for order from IDF to evacuate W. Bank outpost homes.

Ulpana tires 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Ulpana tires 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Police held a large exercise at an IDF base in the Arava region of southern Israel on Monday, to simulate the evacuation of five apartment buildings in Uplana outpost on the outskirts of the Beit El settlement.
The homes are slated for demolition by the end of the month, in line with a High Court of Justice ruling, which said that the structures were built on private Palestinian land.
Law enforcement sources told The Jerusalem Post that officers were waiting for an order from the IDF to move forward and evacuate the homes, but that an agreement with the settlers was still possible, which would prevent the need for a forced evacuation.
Many police officers, including from the Special Patrol Unit and the Border Police, took part in the drill.
During the evacuation, police will form the inner circles around the homes, leading residents out if necessary, while preventing activists from reaching the site to resist the demolition.
Police are keen to complete the evacuation as quickly and with as little conflict as possible, and practiced ways to achieve those goals on Monday.
Separately, Rabbi Dov Lior, a leading figure in the nationalreligious camp, along with several other rabbis, called for prayer and action to “nullify the decree” against Ulpana as well as against other endangered outposts, such as Migron, which the High Court of Justice has ordered the state to evacuate by August 1. The state has also promised to take down the Givat Assaf outpost and Amona. All four outposts are located in the Binyamin region of the West Bank.
In their public appeal, the rabbis called on youth in particular “to be present whenever possible across the Binyamin region in order to express solidarity with the residents of the settlements so that they not be uprooted from their inheritance.”
The rabbis also called on the public to pray to God and exert influence over ministers and public officials so that they do as much as possible to prevent the demolitions.
Beit El and Ulpana residents, as well as the settler leadership, have called on all those who support Jewish settlement of Judea and Samaria to flock to the area to prevent the demolitions with their bodies.
Although settlers leaders have urged passive resistance to the pending demolitions, sporadic violence has already broken out.
On Monday, vandals punctured the tires of a vehicle that belonged to Ze’ev Hever “Zambish,” who heads Amana, the construction arm of the settlement movement, as it was parked in Beit El.
They also threw paint on a vehicle that belonged to Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan, who is among a number of officials tasked with holding informal talks with Beit El and Ulpana residents on behalf of the government.
Ulpana residents said that the vandals were not from Beit El.
Erdan had come to meet with the Beit El leaders, including Rabbi Eliezer Melamed.
Maj.-Gen. Eitan Dangot, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, and cabinet secretary Tzvi Hauser were also at the meeting.
The government is seeking to persuade Ulpana residents to voluntarily leave their homes.