Of the 33 families living at the Ulpana outpost in the West Bank settlement of Beit El, 32 left peacefully on Tuesday and Thursday, as per the agreement between settler leaders and the government. But one family had refused to pack its belongings as of Thursday afternoon.
Yoel and Yiska Fattal stated some days ago that they would not leave their home. Members of the Israel Police Special Patrol Unit were reported to be en route to the settlement to enforce the evacuation on Thursday evening.
Defense Ministry personnel were sealing some of the buildings Thursday and beginning work toward their demolition and eventual reconstruction elsewhere in the settlement.
The evacuation of five buildings from the Beit El settlement neighborhood, as ordered last month by Israel’s High Court of Justice, began as planned on Tuesday morning, when trucks hired by the Defense Ministry came to move residents’ belongings to temporary accommodation nearby.
Before the June 19 agreement was reached to ensure a peaceful evacuation, many of the residents had threatened to fight any attempt to move them from their homes. Yoel Fattal was quoted in a Reuters report days before the agreement as saying that the government “will have to drag me out of here.” After the agreement, which provided for 300 new housing units to be constructed in another part of the settlement, the rhetoric from the settlers was significantly toned down and the government had hoped that the evacuation would be implemented without any glitches.
On Tuesday there were no security forces present as the first 15 families left their houses. Another 17 followed Thursday.
The families are being moved into temporary pre-fab “caravillas” on military land nearby, until their new homes within Beit El are ready.
The agreement to go peacefully was put to the test when a handful of right-wing activists entered one of the apartments, with the intention of staying and resisting the planned evacuation of the buildings. Neighbors convinced them to leave.
The buildings in Givat Ulpana, which a court ruled must be torn down because they are built on privately owned Palestinian land, are slated for demolition by July 1.
The government is backing a plan to take apart and rebuild the homes elsewhere, a costly project that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says will blunt some of the pain for the evacuated families.
The government recently petitioned the court for an extension of the demolition order. A decision is expected in the coming days.
The Ulpana evacuation is the first of a number of planned removal operations in the coming months, including at the Migron and Givat Assaf outposts.