Israel evicts settlers from illegally built West Bank homes

Palestinians dismissed the dismantling of a small number of homes as an empty gesture.
Sunday 17/06/2018
Empty gesture. Settlers scuffle with Israeli security forces at Netiv Haavot settlement near Bethlehem, on June 12. (AFP)
Empty gesture. Settlers scuffle with Israeli security forces at Netiv Haavot settlement near Bethlehem, on June 12. (AFP)

LONDON - Israeli police evicted Jewish settlers from 15 houses built without approval on private Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank.

About 500 protesters demonstrated against the eviction, with some throwing stones and bottles at police and several dozen barricading themselves in one house. Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said six officers were wounded in fighting and that police arrested three protesters.

Protesters opposed to the move also blocked the entrance to Jerusalem, snarling traffic.

Rosenfeld said the evacuation of most of the houses proceeded smoothly, with families leaving the buildings without resisting.

Israeli forces are expected to demolish the structures in the Netiv Ha’avot unauthorised outpost. The Israeli government said it will compensate the residents and build houses on nearby land that is not privately owned.

The Supreme Court of Israel ordered the eviction in 2016, saying the homes were illegally built on private Palestinian land while not determining the precise ownership of the land. A law passed last year legalising dozens of settler outposts in the West Bank is being challenged at the court.

Palestinians dismissed the dismantling of a small number of homes as an empty gesture.

Wassel Abu Youssef, a Palestine Liberation Organisation official, said: “All settlement is illegal and must be removed. Israel is trying to fool world public opinion by removing some homes here and there while it continues to build settlements.”

Under international law, all Israeli settlements are illegal, not just the ones unapproved by the Israeli authorities.

Israel captured the West Bank along with East Jerusalem from Jordan in 1967. There are about 600,000 Israeli settlers living among some 2.6 million Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

Israeli authorities have carried out similar evictions in the past. In February 2017, some 300 settlers were removed from the unauthorised outpost of Amona in the West Bank.

However, settlement expansion, which has drawn Palestinian and international condemnation, has continued.

Israel’s refusal to halt settlement expansion was one of the reasons peace talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials collapsed in 2014.

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