The radical Nachala Settlement Movement was set to send hundreds of activists to at least three locations in the West Bank on Wednesday afternoon in a bid to set up illegal settlement outposts.
The operation threatens to spark clashes between the activists and the security services that are preparing to thwart the attempt to create new settlements, as well as left-wing activists intent on drawing attention to the settler initiative.
Verbal confrontations have already taken place between the Nachala and Peace Now activists at a staging ground for the operation.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz, the IDF and the Israel Police all issued statements on Tuesday insisting that the planned operation by Nachala was illegal and that army, police and border police personnel would be deployed to prevent the establishment of any outposts.
Nachala has stated that three “core groups” comprising several families and likely dozens of other activists, probably youths, will congregate at three points in the Judea, Benjamin, and Samaria regions of the West Bank, and strike out from there to their designated locations where they will try and set up their new outposts.
New settlements in the West Bank can only be legally established via a cabinet resolution and with the authorization of the defense minister. Unauthorized settlements, or outposts, established outside of this framework are illegal.
The purpose of Nachala’s operation is to try and create facts on the ground in the hope that some of the new settlements will eventually be allowed to remain.
This was its strategy when Nachala activists set up the illegal outpost of Evyatar in May 2021. Following political pressure to allow the settlers to remain at the site, an agreement was reached with the government whereby the outpost would not be razed until a review of the land ownership at the site was conducted.
At least two Likud MKs, May Golan and Keti Shitrit, along with Religious Zionism MKs Itamar Ben Gvir and Orit Strock, strongly criticized Gantz’s stance, and said settler activists should be allowed to establish the outposts.
Nachala has been preparing for at least three months for the current operation and has raised over NIS 5 million ($1,454,000) in funding so far from some 8,000 donors.
Its initiative has received public support from prominent public figures, including Religious Zionism party leader MK Bezalel Smotrich, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Aryeh Stern, Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu, and several mayors of West Bank settlements.
The organization has prepared 3,000 kits for its activists that include portable phone chargers, solar-powered lights, shade canopies, ground mats, 20-liter jugs for water, portable latrines and products for personal hygiene.