NETIV HA’AVOT, West Bank — Israeli police on Tuesday evening wrapped up a daylong operation to clear 15 homes in the Netiv Ha’avot outpost, after officers gained control of a building where hundreds of teenage protesters had barricaded themselves in a last stand against the court-ordered evacuation and demolition of the structures.
Three people were arrested in the final hours of the eviction in the Elazar settlement neighborhood, located in the Etzion Bloc south of Jerusalem. One man was detained for assaulting a police officer and two minors were held for hurling objects at cops from the roof of one of the homes.
Two other minors were arrested in the morning for assaulting Border Police officers as demonstrators were still arriving at the West Bank outpost.
Nine officers were injured during the eviction, six of whom required medical attention. Most were released from medical care, but one required additional treatment, police said.
Fourteen of the 15 buildings were cleared relatively peacefully throughout the afternoon, with police met only with passive resistance from demonstrators. In the last home, however, several hundred teenagers barricaded themselves inside, on the roof, on the porch, and in the entryway. To prevent police entry, they used wire fencing, planks of wood and boulders.
After all the protesters were cleared from the entryway, officers began evicting the teenagers waiting inside the structure, with four police officers lugging each protester one-by-one away from the premises in a process that took hours.
Officers faced a considerable amount of verbal abuse from the young demonstrators who lambasted them for “taking part in the eviction of Jews” and for “conspiring with the enemy.”
The demolition of the homes is expected to take place before the end of the week.
In total, 2,300 police officers and Border Police took part in the eviction operation, during which more than 500 youths were forcibly removed from the site on 15 buses that shipped them to various cities throughout the country.
Police said most of the families living in the outpost, as well as hundreds of their supporters, left the site of their own accord.
Lawmakers from the religious pro-settler Jewish Home party were at the outpost during the evacuation to express their support for the protesters.
Tuesday’s eviction came 21 months after the High Court of Justice first ruled that 17 buildings in the neighborhood had been constructed on land not belonging to the state, and ordered that they be demolished by March 8, 2018.
Two of the structures, a small wood shop and a monument for two IDF soldiers killed fighting in Lebanon, were demolished last year.
The remaining 15 residential homes were slated to be razed in March, but the High Court granted a three-month delay to arrange temporary housing for the evicted residents.
In February, the cabinet approved a proposal to begin the process of legalizing the rest of Netiv Ha’avot. The remainder of the outpost includes an additional 20 homes that were also built illegally, but were constructed on parcels declared by Israel to be “state land,” and do not stand on private Palestinian property. The residents plan to use the government’s authorization of an official building plan to advance the construction of 350 more homes in the neighborhood.
A group of seven Palestinians have claimed ownership of the land on which much of Netiv Ha’avot was established in 2001, insisting that they were expelled by Israeli settlers. After an extended legal process, the court ruled in their favor, leading it to order the razing.
Another hearing on the issue is expected in the coming months. A victory for the Palestinian landowners would prevent Netiv Ha’avot residents from moving forward with plans to legalize and expand the remainder of the neighborhood, which the petitioners claim was built on their property as well.