Givat Assaf settlers begin voluntary evacuation

Givat Assaf settlers begin voluntary evacuation

Fate of seven other buildings in outpost slated for demolition still undecided pending an appeal

A view of the Givat Assaf outpost, located near the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the West Bank (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)
A view of the Givat Assaf outpost, located near the Jewish settlement of Beit El in the West Bank (photo credit: Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

Some residents of an illegal settlement set to be demolished Thursday reached a partial agreement with the Defense Ministry and began to voluntarily evacuate their homes before noon.

According to the Civil Administration, the residents of Givat Assaf, an outpost near Beit El, will have until Sunday to complete the evacuation, Israel National News reported.

However, the immediate fate of seven additional buildings in a different section of the settlement slated for demolition Thursday still hangs in the balance, as residents and the Civil Administration continue to petition the court to delay the demolitions.

The civil administration is slated to raze over two dozen buildings in illegal outposts this week, as it carries out a court order from November 2013 to evacuate the properties built on private Palestinian land.

On Wednesday afternoon, security forces completed the demolition of 10 illegal structures in the West Bank outpost of Ma’ale Rehavam, south of Jerusalem, after the High Court rejected a claim by settlers that the land was purchased legally.

A bulldozer in Ma'ale Rehavam Wednesday.  (Screen capture: Israel National News)
A bulldozer in Ma’ale Rehavam Wednesday. (Screen capture: Israel National News)

Some 20 police vehicles entered the outpost late Wednesday morning after driving through a road strewn with burning tires and stone barricades, Israel Radio reported.

They were met with rock-throwing and obscenities by masked men, according to Army Radio.

At least four people were held for trying to prevent Border Police troops from reaching the site.

The demolition of the structures, which were built on private Palestinian land near larger settlements, came six months after the High Court of Justice ruled that they were illegal.

Despite the demolitions Wednesday, other buildings in Ma’ale Rehavam, which the court found had been built legally, are expected to receive government permits allowing them to remain standing — in effect giving a seal of approval to the outpost as a whole.

Security forces have also been ordered to demolish seven more buildings in the settlement of Ramat Gilad, near Karnei Shomron.

The ruling to tear down the structures at the three outposts came a decade after they were built, and six years after Peace Now filed a petition calling on the government to evacuate six West Bank outposts: Givat Asaf, Mitzpeh Yitzhar, Ramat Gilad, Ma’ale Rehavam, Givat Hara’a, and Mitzpeh Lachish.

When they were built, all six outposts became subject to a “delineation order,” an injunction stipulating that the state can evacuate them at any given moment. In 2007, Peace Now pushed for the state to act on the injunction, and in early 2011 the state finally agreed to evacuate all structures built on privately owned land.

Givat Hara’a and Mitzpe Lachish are to receive permits as well.

Last month, a move by security forces to tear down illegal structures in Mitzpeh Yitzhar, adjacent to the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, was met with a violent riot in which local settlers, angered over the nighttime demolition, sacked an army position.

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