New Israeli government demolishes its first Jewish settlement

Ben-Gvir blasts Prime Minister Bennett after Oz Zion’s destruction: “The former head of the YESHA Council is now leading the demolition and destruction of the settlement.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Security forces destroyed the tiny community of Oz Zion in Samaria on Wednesday, marking the first forced evacuation of a Jewish community of the new government 10 days after it was sworn in.

Seven people were arrested trying to stop Border Police and the Civil Administration from razing the nascent village that sits between Jerusalem and Ramallah and is populated by one family and a group of singles. Bulldozers took down five lightly built structures after the forces removed their major contents.

Religious Zionist Party (RZP) chairman Bezalel Smotrich blasted the move.

“Unfortunately, as we feared, the destruction of settlements has already begun in the first days of the government,” he said. “Arab construction is running wild in the Negev, Galilee, Judea and Samaria, and [Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett and [Interior Minister Ayelet] Shaked choose to destroy Jewish [homes].”

Otzma Yehudit head MK Itamar Ben-Gvir (RZP) was temporarily stopped at the police perimeter when he reached the area of the settlement during the evacuation of its residents. He was allowed in after citing the Immunity Law that allows parliamentarians special freedom of movement, but he could only witness the destruction.

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He sharply criticized Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who used to be at the forefront promoting Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.

“The Bennett government continues to cross red lines,” he said. “The former head of the YESHA Council is now leading the demolition and destruction of the settlement.”

Bennett led the Council from 2010 to 2012, before being elected as chairman of the right-wing, religious-Zionist Bayit Yehudi party.

“Just three weeks ago [Arabs] threw Molotov cocktails at homes here,” Ben-Gvir said, referring to the widespread anti-Jewish rioting that took place during Operation Guardian of the Walls. “And today, the government of Bennett and [United Arab List head] Mansour Abbas is expelling Jews from their homes….

“The Islamic Movement is running the government and it’s not a surprise that we see here pure racism,” he alleged. “In the Negev they’re allowed to build as much as they want … no one enforces the law, and here they arrest righteous children who come to settle the land of Israel…

“There is one law for the Bedouin, and a different law for the Jews. How shameful.”

According to one resident of the bare hilltop, Yehuda Lieber, Oz Zion should not have been destroyed because its homes were “built on private land and approved by the local council, but do not comply with the policy of the Civil Administration.”

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The Administration is the body that carries out practical bureaucratic functions in Judea and Samaria and has often been accused by the right wing of bias against Jewish settlement in the region.

Established in 2011, this is at least the eighth time that Oz Zion has been razed by the authorities.