Clashes as Israeli police evict West Bank settlers
Israeli police clashed with hardline Jewish settlers yesterday as they tried to evict them from an illegal outpost, just hours after the government unveiled plans for a further 3,000 homes in other West Bank settlements.
Settlers, and dozens of activists who flocked to Amona to oppose the evacuation, burned tyres and made makeshift barricades at its entrance. And while several families with small children left, others resisted the eviction. Teenage girls wrote slogans on the walls of their caravan homes, while youngsters chanted: "A Jew doesn't evict a Jew!"
Avihai Bavaron, one of the outpost's leaders, said: "We won't leave our homes on our own. Pull us out, and we'll go...it is a black day for Zionism."
Amona, near Ramallah, is the largest of scores of West Bank outposts built without official authorisation, is home to around 330 settlers.
Last November, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that they had to leave because their homes are on privately owned Palestinian land but this operation marked the end of months of attempts by government militants to legalise the outpost.
Most countries consider all Israeli settlements on occupied territories to be illegal, but Israelis cite historical and political links to the land to rival those of the Palestinians, as well as security issues. The Amona issue had caused tensions within Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government. But they eased after the prime minister got behind a law proposed by the Jewish Home party, a far-right political ally, to retroactively legalise dozens of outposts.
This would not apply to Amona because of the existing court decision.
"We have lost the battle over Amona but we are winning the campaign for the Land of Israel," Naftali Bennett, a cabinet minister and Jewish Home leader, tweeted after the evacuation.