Security forces completed the demolition of 10 illegal structures in the West Bank outpost of Ma’ale Rehavam, south of Jerusalem, Wednesday afternoon, after the High Court rejected a claim by settlers that the land was purchased legally.
Four right-wing activists were arrested for interfering with the work of security forces.
Illegal structures in two other outposts — Givat Asaf and Ramat Gilad — are set to be razed in the coming days.
The Jewish Home party called for the immediate cessation of demolitions of Jewish structures in the West Bank. “The demolition of homes in Judea and Samaria must stop immediately,” a statement from the party read. “There cannot be selective and vigorous law enforcement in which they destroy homes in Judea and Samaria, while thousands of illegal Bedouin homes are left standing.”
Earlier, the Supreme Court had issued an injunction against the pending demolition of the 10 structures, so that it could study settlers claims that the land had been purchased legally. The injunction, issued late Wednesday morning, came as security forces were already making their way to Ma’ale Rehavam.
After the court rejected the settlers’ claims, however, the injunction was lifted by early afternoon and forces were given the go-ahead to raze the structures, three of which housed families.
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.
In November 2013, Supreme Court Vice President Justice Miriam Naor said that the state must demolish the buildings within six months, criticizing the government for having failed to do so.
After the ruling was issued, the residents of the outposts refused to leave the buildings.
As of Tuesday, some 16 families lived in the buildings slated for demolition in the three outposts. In addition to the 10 structures in Ma’ale Rehavam, seven buildings are located in Givat Asaf, near Beit El, including one that is used as a synagogue; and seven are in Ramat Gilad, near Karnei Shomron.
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.
Two other outposts, 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.
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.