Security forces razed a pair of illegally built settler homes in a flashpoint outpost in the northern West Bank early Wednesday morning.
One of the homes demolished belonged to the family of Neria Zarog, a “violent extremist” who has inspired attacks against Palestinians and Israeli forces alike, according to a security official who spoke to The Times of Israel last month.
Some 450 Border Police officers accompanied by inspectors from the Civil Administration — the Defense Ministry body that authorizes West Bank construction — took part in the demolitions at the Kumi Uri outpost just southeast of the Yitzhar settlement.
Dozens of young settlers descended on the outpost shortly after forces arrived at 5:30 a.m. and began clashing with border cops. They hurled rocks at the security forces, and one rioter was arrested for assaulting an officer, a police spokesman said.
IDF troops set up road blocks at several major junctions in the northern West Bank to prevent additional protesters from descending on the outpost.
The demolition took roughly two hours, but Israeli youths were filmed beginning the rebuilding of the two family homes shortly after security forces left the scene.
The razing took place a week after the High Court of Justice rejected a petition from one of the home owners, who argued that Israel has no right to demolish a structure in Area B — the section of the West Bank under the civil control of the Palestinian Authority according to the 1995 Oslo Accords.
The court ruled that while Israel does not have authority to grant building permits in that area, it can demolish illegal homes built by Israelis there.
“We are living here in the Land of Israel and we will not give it up. No matter how much they fight against us, whether it is [in Palestinian controlled] Area A or B, the entire Land of Israel belongs to us,” said Aaron Gozlan, one of the homes’ owners to the far-right Hakol Hayehudi news outlet.
The other home razed Wednesday belonged to the family of 21-year-old Zarog.
In September, IDF Central Command Head Nadav Padan signed an administrative order barring Zarog from Kumi Ori and the northern West Bank.
The father of three openly violated the directive, refusing to leave his home, but police didn’t arrest him until two months later. Zarog was held for several days as he refused to agree to the terms of his release, before eventually being let go unconditionally.
The illegal Kumi Ori outpost neighborhood of Yitzhar had provided a “tailwind” for an increase in attacks on Palestinians and Israeli security forces in recent months, the security official said. The outpost is home to seven families along with roughly a dozen extremist Israeli teens known as hilltop youth known.
The IDF declared the wildcat community a closed military zone in October after a number of young settlers living there were involved in a string of violent attacks on Palestinians and security forces.
A Border Police company has since been dispatched to the outpost to enforce the IDF order, leading to a peak in tensions between security forces and residents of Yitzhar along with the surrounding outposts.