Violence erupts in outpost as police evict Israeli settlers

Protesters standing atop a roof as a shed burns during the eviction of Israelis settlers from the illegal outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank yesterday.
Protesters standing atop a roof as a shed burns during the eviction of Israelis settlers from the illegal outpost of Amona in the occupied West Bank yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

AMONA (West Bank) • Rightist protesters scuffled with Israeli police carrying out a court order to evict settlers from an illegal outpost in the occupied West Bank yesterday, hours after the government announced more construction in larger settlements.

Around 330 Israeli settlers live in Amona, the largest of scores of outposts built in the West Bank without official authorisation. The Supreme Court ruled last November, after a lengthy legal battle, that settlers had to leave Amona because their homes were built on privately owned Palestinian land.

With no weapons visible, but wearing backpacks, hundreds of police walked past burning tyres and pushed back against dozens of nationalist Israeli youths who flocked to Amona in support of the settlers.

Several protesters were detained by police during the scuffles and there were a few instances of stone-throwing. A police spokesmen said at least 10 officers were injured slightly by rocks and caustic liquid thrown at them.

"A Jew doesn't evict a Jew!" the youngsters chanted.

DEFIANCE

We won't leave our homes on our own. Pull us out, and we'll go. It is a black day for Zionism.

AN AMONA SETTLER

The Amona settlers themselves largely stayed put inside their homes after erecting makeshift barriers in front of their doors and vowing passive resistance to eviction. "We won't leave our homes on our own. Pull us out, and we'll go," one settler told reporters. "It is a black day for Zionism."

On a nearby hilltop, Mr Issa Zayed, a Palestinian who said he was one of the owners of the land on which Amona was built, watched the scene through binoculars. "With God's help, it will be evacuated and our land will return to us," he said.

Earlier, Israel had announced plans for 3,000 more settlement homes in the West Bank, the third such declaration in 11 days since Mr Donald Trump took office as US President. Mr Trump, a Republican, has signalled he could be more accommodating towards such projects than his Democratic predecessor Barack Obama.

The Amona issue had caused tensions within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition government. But they eased after he 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.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2017, with the headline 'Violence erupts in outpost as police evict Israeli settlers'. Print Edition | Subscribe