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Video: Israel evacuates Amona outpost but the settler movement looks as strong as ever

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Israeli police evacuated more than 200 Israeli settlers Wednesday from the West Bank outpost of Amona, dragging families with young children out of the illegal community that was built more than a decade ago.

Three-thousand officers carried out the long-postponed evacuation, scuffling with the teenagers along the way. Sixty officers were injured and 13 protesters arrested, according to a police statement.

Amona is a small community at the top of a hill in the West Bank. It neighbors the large settlement of Ofra, and the Palestinian villages Silwad and Taybeh. The legal status of the outpost has been at the heart of a heated controversy between settlers, Palestinians, and the Israeli government for years. And, we are now witnessing the final episode.

The row over Amona began in summer 2005 when the Israeli human rights group Peace Now petitioned Israel’s High Court to prevent permanent status for Amona, which would make the settlement legal under Israeli law—but still in violation of International law. At that time it was known that Amona was built without the necessary legal permits from the Israeli government, and on privately owned Palestinian land.

A first evacuation took place in February 2006.

Thousands of protesters clashed with Israeli authorities. It is remembered as a deep trauma in this community. Soon after, they rebuilt in violation of the court.

In 2008 the Israeli legal rights group Yesh Din filed a second petition to the Supreme Court to again evict the settlement, this time in the name of the Palestinian land owners. Jurists ruled against the settlers, although they delayed the razing of settlement until summer 2013.

Yet the ruling was never implemented and the settlers continued to reside in Amona.

In December 2014 Amona was back in litigation. The Israeli Supreme Court ordered the state to completely evacuate and demolish the settlement within the next two years.

For more than a decade the debate about Amona has been filtered through various points of views, leading to a climax of antagonism within the Israeli society between those in support of settlements and national organization actively against the settlements, and the rest of the society.

With this most recent evacuation it may seem that justice prevailed in favor of the original Palestinian landowners, but for many, it is not a victory. Evicting Amona residents was not a sacrifice made by the state, as the larger colonial policy will resettle them elsewhere in occupied Palestinian territory.

The Israeli government announced ongoing construction since the start of this year for a series of massive new settlement housing units. In fact, more than 6,000 have been approved.

Amona residents will ultimately be relocated in adjacent plots of land, which also belong to Palestinians. Yesh Din lawyers are already helping the owners prepare for court on those tracks.

Moreover, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he started the process of establishing a new settlement “as soon as possible” to replace the demolished Amona homes.

Israel’s Channel 2 reported the construction could happen as soon as within the next two months. If this occurs, the new town would become the first official new settlement established in more than 20 years. Other settlements built in the last two decades with government approval were classified as expansions to pre-existing settlements and not altogether new localities. 

Mondoweiss Editors

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4 Responses

  1. Citizen on February 3, 2017, 5:14 pm

    What will Jared Kushner advise Trump to say about this on February 15th?

  2. Talkback on February 3, 2017, 8:39 pm

    Poor people. They are sad, that they cannot live on this particular Nonjewish private property. Be patient. Israel is going to disposess other Nonjews. It’s called “Israeli sovereignty”. That’s code for “Zionist large scale disposession and expulsion of Nonjews”. Something a racist sociopath can be proud of.

  3. Ossinev on February 4, 2017, 6:50 am

    Truly heartbreaking watching these arrogant racist scumbags being “forceably” evacuated from their illegal biblically authorised settlement especially the guy in tears. Apparently there was a lot of stone and rock throwing at security forces ( Jewish settler standard stone and rock throwing which is harmless and non life threatening unlike the Palestinian equivalent which is horrendous , life threatening and probably now ISIS inspired). I have also seen in some reports reference to iron bars being wielded(again Jewish settler standard and totally unlike eg the Mavi Marmara equivalent absolutely non life threatening so no lethal fire etc). Apparently there were some arrests ? – waiting for the hilarious outcome of these = 6 month constantly renewable detention without charge with no access to lawyers / family whoops sorry my mistake that`s for Palestinian stone throwing “terrorists” only.

    As for the U.S. Trump reaction to the announcement by the Yahoo of new settlements as an apology to the illegal settlers for having to apply the law best summed up in a recent reader`s comment in the NYT:

    “Trump finally got back on message. You’re not supposed to just let Israel steal Palestinian land. You’re supposed to say it‘s not helpful and then let them do it.”

    One (temporary) Apartheid state here we come.

  4. just on February 4, 2017, 7:25 am

    Gideon Levy, February 2, 2017:

    “The Last Show at Amona

    Once, I moved house. It was sad. It was sad to part from the walls and the memories. The sorrow passed. I got over it. I am not alone: A lot of people have moved home, some because they wanted to, others not: because of a contract that expired, a relationship that fell apart or a new job.

    It’s always sad to leave home, though not every such departure features (ostensibly) heart-wrenching articles, phony assertions, utterly incredible cries for national compassion and scandalous compensation. It doesn’t always take eight Israeli army battalions and 3,000 policemen to move a person from what had been his home.

    On second thoughts, I never lived in a stolen home. Maybe leaving it is harder.

    On Wednesday the Amona Show arrived at its last act. More than anything else, the illegal outpost’s evacuation proved how racist the Israeli police are. It seems that people can be evacuated using bare hands, without need for rifles or helmets, without truncheons and mainly, without the discourtesy and penchant for violence that the police and border police have demonstrated when facing the weak, Arabs or Ethiopians. Suddenly the demonstrators are not shot with live fire. It was not the police who swept into Amona, but “Salvation Army” soldiers in blue jackets with an Israeli flag sewn to the sleeve.

    Why? Because the evacuees are white Jews, representatives of the most privileged, most powerful group in Israeli society. Because the chief of police hails from the same neighborhood. Because the government didn’t want heart-rending pictures to start making the rounds.

    From Umm al-Hiran to Amona, the comparison shrieked to the skies: apartheid police. One police for whites and one police for natives. It can no longer be denied.

    The evacuation of Amona proceeded after foreplay that dragged on and on, including the usual repertoire of schticks, featuring endless hearings in the High Court of Justice, sitting as an especially incongruous Purim-costumed version of a state with justice and equality before the law, including the justices playing dumb, the young girls in braids and tears, the young mothers with babies, the guitars, the prayers, candles and all that tired jazz. The cries of “wickedness” and “discrimination” and “Citizens type B,” the little girl asking her mother, in front of rolling cameras of course, “Mommy, will we have somewhere to live?” as though she didn’t know the answer.

    The army that cordons off the area but allows hundreds of youngsters to freely infiltrate, barricading themselves inside homes while vowing to eschew violence; the soldiers demonstrating their sensitivity as they prepare for action – any moment now they’ll be bursting into tears; the nauseating headlines – “This was my home,” “The final hours”; the Palestinian landowners for whose benefit this show has been put on, who will never be allowed to get anywhere near their land, now evacuated; the childish name chosen for this mission – “Locked kindergarten” [from the song based on Rachel’s poem, “It’s not nice to see the kindergarten locked”] – how very poetic and moving. And, of course, the appropriate Zionist reaction, without which no eviction could possibly proceed – build another 1,000 housing units, and counting.

    The music never stops – until it does, and the Amona Show is going to be the last one. The eviction season is over. The pretending is over. Barring something unexpected happening in Washington, we can forget this theater of the absurd, this evacuation sample, in which – for a moment there – Israel wraps itself in the image of a state of law and order, moves out a handful of settlers who occupied land “illegally” – bad lot, those settlers – as though there was a single settlement in the land that conducted itself legally, and in their stead is instating another thousand people on land that is just as stolen. But now annexation is approaching, the arrangement is nigh, the masked ball is winding down, and following it will come the hangover of the settlers’ triumph.

    Few Israelis have ever visited Amona. Most have no idea where it is. Presumably, few care… Even after all the tear-jerking, Amona did not touch the hearts of the secular community. Yet ironically it is Amona where the independence of the state of settlers has been declared. It is this inane eviction that attests to their grand victory. There will be no more Amonas. It was the National Theater’s last show.”

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