In final standoff before razing of outpost homes, protests take a violent turn
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In final standoff before razing of outpost homes, protests take a violent turn

8 officers hurt as demonstrators at Netiv Ha'avot hurl rocks, bottles, paint at police; eviction process likely to take hours

Jacob Magid is the settlements correspondent for The Times of Israel.

  • A police officer is treated by medics after being attacked by settlers during the evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha'avot on June 12, 2018. (Israel Police)
    A police officer is treated by medics after being attacked by settlers during the evacuation of the illegal West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha'avot on June 12, 2018. (Israel Police)
  • Protesters at the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank during the demolition of one of 15 illegally-built homes, on June 12, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
    Protesters at the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank during the demolition of one of 15 illegally-built homes, on June 12, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
  • Police and Border Police officers at the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank during the demolition of 15 illegally-built homes, on June 12, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
    Police and Border Police officers at the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank during the demolition of 15 illegally-built homes, on June 12, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
  • A border police officer asks one of the child residents of a home, built illegally in the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank, to leave the premises on June 12, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
    A border police officer asks one of the child residents of a home, built illegally in the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank, to leave the premises on June 12, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
  • Residents of the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the West Bank leave their home peacefully ahead of its court-ordered demolition, June 12, 2018. (Jacob Magid/The Times of Israel)
    Residents of the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the West Bank leave their home peacefully ahead of its court-ordered demolition, June 12, 2018. (Jacob Magid/The Times of Israel)
  • Protesters at the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank inside one of 15 illegally-built homes shortly before their expected demolition, on June 12, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
    Protesters at the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank inside one of 15 illegally-built homes shortly before their expected demolition, on June 12, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
  • Protesters at the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank on the roof of one of 15 illegally-built homes shortly before their expected demolition, on June 12, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
    Protesters at the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank on the roof of one of 15 illegally-built homes shortly before their expected demolition, on June 12, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
  • Settlers scuffle with security forces at Netiv Ha'avot settlement, near Bethlehem, in the West Bank on June 12, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Menahem KAHANA)
    Settlers scuffle with security forces at Netiv Ha'avot settlement, near Bethlehem, in the West Bank on June 12, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / Menahem KAHANA)
  • Protesters at the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank shortly before the expected demolition of 15 illegally-built homes, on June 12, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)
    Protesters at the Netiv Ha'avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank shortly before the expected demolition of 15 illegally-built homes, on June 12, 2018. (Luke Tress/Times of Israel)

NETIV HA’AVOT, West Bank — The court-ordered clearing of 15 homes in the illegal West Bank outpost of Netiv Ha’avot for demolition took a violent turn on Tuesday afternoon, with at least eight police officers injured while attempting to empty the final building, where hundreds of mostly teenage settlers had gathered to obstruct the razing.

Fourteen of the 15 buildings were cleared for demolition relatively peacefully throughout the afternoon, where police met only with passive resistance by demonstrators. In the last house,  however, some 200 teenagers had barricaded themselves inside, on the roof, in the basement 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 forced to carry each protester one-by-one in a process likely to take hours.

The demolition of the homes will take place on Thursday.

A medic at the scene told The Times of Israel that eight officers have been injured, at least two of whom were taken to a hospital. Police said they were violently attacked by the protesters, who hurled rocks, bottles, paint balls and other objects at the security forces.

Dozens of demonstrators on the roof of the building also harassed police and threw paint and water on them, as hundreds of others watched the clashes from outside the structure.

The police statement said two officers were treated for head injuries, and another was lightly injured in the leg.

According to police, a number of the protesters on the roof were also seen carrying cement blocks and glass bottles.

Lawmakers from the religious pro-settler Jewish Home party were at the outpost during the evacuation to express their support for the protesters.

Some 2,500 Border Police officers were deployed to ensure the demolition of the homes was carried out peacefully.

Unarmed Israel Police officers earlier carried out the peaceful evacuation of the families from the first 14 homes, with the residents inside coming out of their own volition. Parents hugged their children and walked toward a shuttle that took them to their modular homes on an adjacent hilltop.

The West Bank residents were accompanied by cheering supporters.

Officers were deployed in three rings surrounding the outpost, a neighborhood of the Elazar settlement located in the Etzion Bloc south of Jerusalem.

Arriving hours before the officers on Tuesday were hundreds of teens from neighboring communities in the Etzion Bloc who are protesting the demolition.

Four of the teenagers were detained by police for scuffling with officers, according to reports from the scene, with all released shortly thereafter.

Several dozen people also gathered at the entrance to Jerusalem to protest the demolition, burning tires and blocking traffic, police said.

Demonstrators block a road near the entrance to Jerusalem in protest of the demolition of 15 homes built illegally in the Netiv Ha’avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank, on June 12, 2018. (Alexander Shachor)

A police statement said officers dispersed the demonstration, resumed traffic flow, and arrested four youths who “blatantly disturbed public order and refused to heed to officers’ orders.”

Tuesday’s demolition comes 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 last March, but the High Court granted a three-month delay to arrange temporary housing for the evicted residents.

The 15 homes being evacuated on Tuesday were plastered with posters blasting the “absurdity of the High Court ruling.”

Border Police and protesters at the Netiv Ha’avot outpost in the Gush Etzion area of the West Bank shortly before the expected demolition of 15 homes built illegally on private Palestinian land, on June 12, 2018. (Jacob Magid/Times of Israel)

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.

Luke Tress and Michael Bachner contributed to this report.

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