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Bennett receives extra security ahead of contentious Amona evacuation

Head of pro-settler Jewish Home gets bodyguards, armored vehicle following threats by far-right activists accusing him of ‘betrayal’

Jewish Home party chairman Naftali Bennett leads a party faction meeting at the Knesset, on December 12, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Jewish Home party chairman Naftali Bennett leads a party faction meeting at the Knesset, on December 12, 2016. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the head of the pro-settler Jewish Home party, has received additional security following threats from far-right activists ahead of the planned evacuation of the West Bank outpost of Amona.

Bennett was given two bodyguards and an armored vehicle from the Shin Bet domestic security service, which will accompany him in the weeks leading up to the demolition of the outpost on December 25, the Hebrew-language news website Walla reported.

The increased security measures, which Bennett’s office confirmed, were made in light of threatening messages obtained by Walla, in which far-right activists accuse Bennett of “betrayal” and “selling out the settlers” and vow to violently resist Amona’s evacuation.

Security forces are preparing for violent resistance to Amona’s evacuation, in what may turn out to be a repeat of the violence that followed the destruction of several buildings in the outpost in 2006.

Jewish youth prepare places for people to sleep in as they plan to resist the evacuation of Amona in the West Bank, on December 9, 2016. The writing on the structure reads "there will be a war for Amona." (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Jewish youth prepare places for people to sleep in as they plan to resist the evacuation of Amona in the West Bank, on December 9, 2016. The writing on the structure reads “there will be a war for Amona.” (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

While numerous pro-settlement groups have called for nonviolent resistance, some signs of violence have already appeared. On Monday, Channel 2 reported that an adviser on settlements to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman was accosted by Amona residents last week, who pushed him and called him a “loser.”

In another incident last week, Amona residents broke into a meeting of the Yesha council, the main umbrella body for settlements in the West Bank, and screamed at participants for having a “meeting about Amona without the residents of Amona,” while refusing to leave.

On Monday, Bennett said that a new plan had been formulated to move the residents of the illegal West Bank outpost to an adjacent plot of land on the same hill.

The 2006 clashes in Amona (Nati Shohat/Flash 90)
The 2006 clashes in Amona (Nati Shohat/Flash 90)

The latest efforts to prevent the evacuation come after the so-called Regulation Bill, which seeks to legalize settlements built on Palestinian land, passed a first reading in the Knesset last week without a clause that would also ensure recognition for Amona and effectively overturn the court ruling.

Amona is the largest of about 100 unauthorized outposts — erected without permission but generally tolerated by the government — that dot the West Bank. In December 2014, after multiple appeals and delays, the court ordered that the outpost be evacuated within two years, or no later than December 25 of this year. It has already rejected a petition to postpone the dismantling of the settlement, which was built on privately owned Palestinian land, for eight months.

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