As evacuation deadline looms, Migron settlers dig in

As evacuation deadline looms, Migron settlers dig in

Settler leaders hope evacuations of 33 families can be delayed until after High Court decision on the status of the remaining 17

Caravans (trailers) in the West Bank outpost of Migron (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Caravans (trailers) in the West Bank outpost of Migron (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

The IDF is preparing to evict more than 30 families from their homes in the West Bank outpost of Migron by Tuesday, if they don’t agree to leave beforehand.

On Sunday, the Migron residents informed the Defense Ministry that they would not voluntarily leave before Tuesday’s High Court decision on the legal status of the homes of 17 other families in the outpost, whose potential evacuation has been delayed until after the hearing.

The residents also waived a Defense Ministry offer to make relocation services available to the families should they agree to evacuate the outpost on their own.

Also on Sunday, a settler spokesperson told Army Radio that the settlers would resist if the army tried to force them out before the Tuesday ruling, despite reports that over the weekend the settler leadership and the IDF had sought ways to minimize or avoid a violent confrontation if forced evacuations do take place.

Maj. Gen. Eitan Dangot, IDF coordinator for the West Bank, wrote in a weekend letter to the head of the Binyamin Regional Council that the 33 families in question would be forcibly removed if they did not comply with the Tuesday deadline.

New, temporary homes have been prepared for them in the nearby settlement of Givat Hayekev, but on Sunday Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon said that according to the agreement reached with the settlers, only those families who voluntarily evacuate would be entitled to live in the new dwellings.

The specter of a settler-IDF confrontation looms large, with both sides reportedly taking steps to avoid violence if a forced evacuation occurs. According to Ynet News, the IDF does not expect resistance from the Migron residents themselves, but rather from extremist elements from outside the outpost.

The 33 families live on land that has been determined to be private Palestinian land. The other 17 families claim that their homes are located on legally purchased land; the High Court of Justice will convene on Tuesday to rule on that claim.

Earlier in the week, the state told the High Court of Justice that it would not attempt to delay the evacuation, though it is still investigating whether residents legally purchased some of the land.

Migron, the largest West Bank outpost, was acknowledged by the state to be built on private Palestinian land, and the court ordered its evacuation and demolition earlier this year. In July, residents of the outpost petitioned the court to delay the evacuation, arguing that they had purchased roughly half the land the outpost sits on from its Palestinian owner. The police began investigating the claim following a complaint filed by the landowner.

Also in July, a ministerial committee decided to support the petition to delay evacuation. The residents of Migron have stated that the court decision ignored that recommendation.

The government petitioned the High Court of Justice last month to grant it a 30-day extension for the evacuation of the outpost, saying the army could not carry out that mission during the month-long Muslim holiday of Ramadan and that new housing had yet to be completed for the families set to be evicted.

The petition to the court recognized that an earlier request to delay the evacuation until November 2015 was rejected, but said that a shorter, one-month delay was reasonable. The court had ordered that the evacuation be carried out by August 1.

On Thursday, several dozen Migron residents demonstrated in front of the Justice Ministry to protest the state’s plan to evacuate the site, and over the weekend, residents of Givat Asaaf, a nearby outpost also slated for evacuation, sent a letter in support of the Migron residents.

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