Illegal outpost set up near Eli settlement, while no orders come to evacuate Evyatar

Five new buildings and an access road are built overnight in the West Bank without army or Defense Ministry intervention, near where Palestinian terrorists killed 4 Israelis

Jeremy Sharon is The Times of Israel’s legal affairs and settlements reporter

Construction equipment and caravan houses are seen at the new illegal outpost of Hamor near the West Bank settlement of Maale Levona on June 22, 2023, following a deadly terror attack at a nearby gas station two days before. (Courtesy)
Construction equipment and caravan houses are seen at the new illegal outpost of Hamor near the West Bank settlement of Maale Levona on June 22, 2023, following a deadly terror attack at a nearby gas station two days before. (Courtesy)

A new illegal outpost was set up in the West Bank Wednesday night, just a few kilometers from the Eli settlement outside of which four Israelis were killed in a terror attack on Tuesday.

Photos provided by Peace Now showed five buildings made of prefabricated metal walls erected at the site, just outside the Ma’ale Levona settlement in the northern West Bank across Route 60 from Eli.

Also visible in the pictures are heavy earth-moving bulldozers and excavator drill machinery, as well as a newly dug, unpaved access path to the site.

The IDF, Defense Ministry, Civil Administration and office of Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich — who serves as an additional minister in the Defense Ministry with authority over civilian affairs in the West Bank — did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to how such a complex, illegal construction operation was carried out without their intervention and whether the site would be evacuated.

Although Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is still technically responsible for enforcement against new outposts, according to an agreement between him and Smotrich in February, Smotrich must be consulted before any evacuations are conducted.

Separately, dozens and possibly hundreds of settler activists have taken up residence in the illegal, oft-evacuated outpost of Evyatar several kilometers north of Eli, and are holding events and activities at the site.

Peace Now condemned the developments, accusing those behind them of using Tuesday’s terror attack as cover for setting up new settlements.

(Left to right) Harel Masood, 21, of Yad Binyamin, Elisha Anteman, 17, of Eli, Ofer Fayerman, 64, of Eli, and Nachman Mordoff, 17, of Ahiya, who were killed in a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Eli on June 20, 2023. (Courtesy)

“Settler terrorism… is cynically exploiting the terrible terror attack and continuing to establish facts on the ground. We will all pay the price of the failure to deal with this and of the continuation of the bloody cycle,” said the organization.

Security forces “must dismantle the outpost, evacuate the settlers who went to Evyatar, and deal with Jewish terrorism with a heavy hand when it rears its head,” the organization added, in reference to the riots and arson committed by settlers in the Palestinian village of Turmus Ayya on Wednesday.

The Evyatar settler activists include families with young children, as well as youth from settlements across the West Bank and from inside Israel, many of whom have now finished school for the summer.

On Wednesday night Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, made his way to Evyatar to give a lecture to dozens of young men and boys at an ad hoc yeshiva set up in the outpost.

Prayer services, a puppet show for children, and other lectures for men and women have been arranged for Thursday evening.

The Civil Administration has yet to be given orders to evacuate the settler activists from the outpost.

Evyatar was originally established illegally and without authorization in 2013 after a terror attack at nearby Tapuah Junction, in which Evyatar Borovsky was killed. The outpost was subsequently demolished, but in 2021 the Nachala organization arranged for several families and activists to return to the site.

Activists including families with young children who took up residence in the illegal West Bank outpost of Evyatar Tuesday night, June 20, 2023. (Courtesy Nachala Settlement Movement)

The previous government of Benjamin Netanyahu promised to find a solution for the Evyatar residents, in return for which they voluntarily left the outpost without the structures at the site being demolished.

The new Netanyahu government, which took office in December, pledged in its coalition agreements with Smotrich’s Religious Zionism party to legalize Evyatar, which is likely built on land belonging to residents of nearby Palestinian villages, though that question has not been fully settled.

Neither the Defense Ministry, the IDF, nor the offices of Gallant and Smotrich immediately responded to requests for comment as to whether the Evyatar activists will be removed.

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