Troops raze 3 structures in outpost adjacent to grounds of new Amona settlement

Civil Administration says Border Police cleared Geulat Tzion of its makeshift homes, as it has done roughly a dozen times since 2011

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Security forces on Monday demolished three makeshift homes in the illegal outpost of Geulat Tzion, which has been razed and rebuilt roughly a dozen times since its establishment in 2011.

Prior to the afternoon demolition, the hilltop community sat adjacent to the grounds of the new settlement being built for evacuees of the illegal Amona outpost, which was demolished in February 2017.

Two young families and a group of yeshiva students had been living in the cabins before the demolition, according to Tzvi Succot, a settler-activist and head of the far-right Otzma Yehudit group.

Succot said Border Police at the scene used excessive force in clearing the outpost, whose residents present at the time included a pregnant woman with her young child.

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A spokeswoman for the Civil Administration — the Defense Ministry body that oversees construction in the West Bank — told The Times of Israel that forces had carried out “routine enforcement” against illegal building, without incident.

The spokeswoman added that she was unaware of any families who had even been living there on a permanent basis, but the residents refuted that statement.

Geulat Tzion has been the site of a long-run game of cat-and-mouse between settlers and security forces with the latter evacuating the outpost of its handful of families every few months, just to see them return again weeks later.

The hilltop was last cleared in January, when only one family was actually living there, though it had frequently been hosting youth from neighboring outposts who assisted them with agricultural work on the hilltop.

A week prior to that evacuation, the residents had posted a video on YouTube calling on those “interested in raising settlement to the next level” to join them in working the land on the West Bank hilltop.

The outpost was once larger, housing nearly a dozen families as well as a yeshiva, but the frequent demolitions — often featuring clashes with soldiers — have apparently taken their toll.

Over the last year, Geulat Tzion residents have found themselves at odds with another group of settlers, whose new community is being built next door.

In November, police detained four members of a Geulat Tzion family, after they blocked construction trucks from reaching the grounds of the new Amichai settlement.

The family claimed that the access road to Amichai runs through Geulat Tzion without their consent.

The first caravan is placed on the grounds of the new Amichai settlement for evacuees of the illegal Amona outpost on February 21, 2018. (Courtesy: Amona evacuees)

Last week, construction teams installed the first trailers in Amichai, just over a year after their illegal outpost had been razed, and seven months after ground was broken.

Thirty-six trailers were laid out for the majority of the 42 evacuee families, who have been living together in a dormitory in the nearby settlement of Ofra, since the February 2017 evacuation.

Due to budgetary constraints, the placement of four of the trailers has been temporarily delayed, while an additional two face setbacks due to High Court petitions from Palestinians who claim that they would be situated on land that belongs to them.

It is unclear whether those six homes will be installed in time for the residents’ move to the hilltop, and a number of families may be forced to remain behind temporarily.

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