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Ultra-Orthodox illegal settlement outpost evacuated and razed

Derech Emunah, described by founders as the first unauthorized settlement to be built by Haredim, was given backing by several MKs

Settlers from the ultra-Orthodox illegal outpost of Derech Emunah leave their settlement after it was evacuated and destroyed by border police and Civil Administration personnel in the early hours of Wednesday morning, August 17, 2022. (Screenshot courtesy Derech Emunah residents)
Settlers from the ultra-Orthodox illegal outpost of Derech Emunah leave their settlement after it was evacuated and destroyed by border police and Civil Administration personnel in the early hours of Wednesday morning, August 17, 2022. (Screenshot courtesy Derech Emunah residents)

A wildcat settlement that its founders described as the first illegal outpost to be established by members of the ultra-Orthodox community was evacuated and destroyed in the early hours of Wednesday morning be Israeli security forces.

The outpost, in the southern West Bank, was built overnight Sunday and its establishment was announced by the residents on Tuesday. By Wednesday morning all 15 structures erected at the site had been removed by border police and personnel from the Civil Administration.

According to settler activists from the outpost, which had been named Derech Emunah, security forces arrived at 5 a.m. to conduct the evacuation.

Footage on social media showed border police forcibly removing at least one resident of the outpost, although it appears the vast majority complied with orders to leave the site.

“We have fired the first shot in the establishment of this settlement; everything good is still ahead of us,” the outpost activists said in a statement on Twitter following the operation.

Fifteen families had taken up residence in the outpost, which was located close to the ultra-Orthodox settlement of Metzad in the Gush Etzion Regional Council. Dozens of ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students had helped build the unauthorized settlement in the late hours of Sunday night, activists said.

Ultra-Orthodox settlers at the newly established illegal settlement outpost of Derech Emunah in the southern West Bank, August 16, 2022. (Courtesy of residents of Derech Emunah)

Several MKs, including Eli Cohen from the Likud party, Uriel Busso from the ultra-Orthodox Shas party and Simcha Rothman from the Religious Zionism party expressed support for the illegal outpost before it was destroyed. Busso and Rothman noted specifically that the settler activists were fulfilling the religious commandment of settling the Land of Israel.

According to Derech Emunah founder and organizer Moshe Rotman, a forum was held last month to recruit families from the ultra-Orthodox community to help establish and take up residence in the outpost.

Rotman said that representatives of dozens of families attended the forum, and he insisted that there is great interest within the ultra-Orthodox community in moving to West Bank settlements.

He claimed this growing interest was due to the housing crisis in ultra-Orthodox cities, as well as a natural but as-yet untapped religious idealism in the community for settlement living.

“The establishment of Derech Emunah is designed to increase awareness within the ultra-Orthodox community of the religious commandment of settling the land as well as showing that the housing crisis in the community can be resolved through settlement construction in Judea and Samaria,” said Rotman, using the biblical terms for the territory of the West Bank.

The Peace Now settlement watchdog had called for the immediate evacuation of the outpost shortly after its existence was announced, saying failure to do so ran counter to “Israel’s interests, security, and a two-state solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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