The IDF warned on Tuesday that it will clear over 200 protesters out of the ruins of the Sa-Nur settlement in the West Bank after they converged on the formerly evacuated site early Tuesday morning.
Protesters took up positions in an abandoned British fort at the site to mark 10 years since the 2005 Gaza disengagement during which Jewish residents were also forcibly evacuated from four settlements in the northern West Bank, including Sa-Nur.
The settlements of Kadim, Ganim, and Homesh were also cleared out at the time, along with the larger Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip.
Among those who took part in the reoccupation of the settlement were families who were evacuated in 2005 as well as rabbis, public figures, and MK Bezalel Smotrich from the nationalist Jewish Home party.
“Ten years after the expulsion the time has come to rectify, and the start of rectification is here in northern Samaria,” Smotrich said. “I think it that today it is clear to every child in Israel that the disengagement was folly and aside from terror and a Hamas state it didn’t achieve anything.”
The protesters, who came equipped for a long stay, stole into Sa-Nur, which is off-limits to Israeli citizens, during an overnight hike that set out from another settlement in the area. They entered the abandoned fort and settled down for what they said was the long term.
The move came as police took over a building project in the settlement of Beit El slated for demolition by a High Court order, evacuating some 200 people and arrested 50 in ensuing scuffles.
Limor Har Melech-Son, who, along with her family, was tossed out of her home in the Homesh settlement, declared that the move was a homecoming.
“We are returning to our home to rectify the crime that was committed,” she said.
תפילת שחרית ברחבת המצודה בשאנור pic.twitter.com/xb7wKogOIh
— בצלאל סמוטריץ' (@bezalelsm) July 28, 2015
Two hours after the protesters entered Sa-Nur an IDF patrol arrived and warned them that they must leave, but the demonstrators refused to budge.
The Yesha Council of West Bank settlements said in a statement that it welcomes the “reestablishment of the Sa-Nur settlement” 10 years after what it termed “the terrible mistake and crime of the expulsion.”
“The Yesha Council calls on the government to enable a renewal of the Jewish settlement in Sa-Nur and the northern Samaria,” the council said. “These days are a test of the Israeli government’s moral strength to implement a national policy of construction and development, and to establish the banner of settlement as an important mission for the younger generation.”
The protest came ten years after the Sa-Nur settlement was cleared of its 40 families as part of the much larger Gaza disengagement plan, which saw over 8,000 Jewish residents of settlements in the coastal enclave evacuated by the IDF.
Under then-prime minister Ariel Sharon, Israel evacuated the 21 Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip in August 2005 and handed over control of the enclave to the Palestinians.
Settlers have attempted to reestablish the Sa-Nur and other evacuated West Bank settlements in the past, including in 2008, when some thousand people converged on Homesh and dozens more at Sa-Nur in a short-lived attempt to rebuild.