The High Court of Justice upheld its decision to order the demolition of two structures in the West Bank settlement of Beit El Wednesday, after the state appealed the order amid protests by settlers and right-wing politicians.
Protests against the planned tear-down of the so-called Dreinoff project continued into early Wednesday as hundreds of right-wing activists clashed with police forces dispatched to clear out the apartment buildings.
Six demonstrators were arrested late Tuesday night, five of them minors, according to Israeli news site Ynet.
The High Court earlier determined that the project had been built on private Palestinian land seized by the IDF in the 1970s and set a deadline of July 30 for implementation.
Nationalist Jewish Home party MK Naftali Bennett lamented the court’s decision, but told Army Radio that he would respect the law, though he contended the units already had permits and would be rebuilt.
Bennett also called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “announce now that he will uphold his promise to build 300 more housing units.”
Other politicians were less diplomatic.
“We need to put the blade of a D-9 [bulldozer] in front of the Supreme Court. It’s time we put the head judge in her place and show her who’s the majority,” said Jewish Home MK Moti Yogev, who a day earlier threatened to fell the ruling coalition over the issue.
The petition to stop the demolition was lodged by the contractor constructing the buildings, which were slated to contain 24 housing units.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday said he would seek to have the buildings preserved in a bid to soothe anger from some coalition partners after Israeli police cleared out the project early Tuesday morning.
Some 200 settlers had barricaded themselves inside the two buildings in an attempt to prevent the implementation of the demolition order early Tuesday morning. They were evacuated before dawn by police, who proceeded to take control of the buildings while scuffling with protesters.
Settlers fighting the evacuation said the battle was larger than the scuffles over saving the Dreinoff project.
“It doesn’t matter what will happen here — if the houses will be destroyed or not — this is just part in a bigger fight over the settlements,” a local man told the Israeli Ynet news site.
“We may lose the battle — but not the war.”
Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson called for the court’s decision to be respected.
“The story of the Beit El housing units is very simple: It is not legal,” he said in a statement.