Palestinians throwing Molotov cocktails spark fire in Samaria Jewish community

“Where are the government’s promises for military protection of the settlement after the evacuation of the settlers?” asked Religious Zionism MK Bezalel Smotrich.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Palestinians hurled Molotov cocktails at the evacuated outpost of Evyatar, sparking a large fire at the site, Hebrew-language media reported Monday evening.

In June, residents of the community accepted a compromise deal which saw them agree to temporarily evacuate their homes. In exchange, the buildings constructed by the settlers were not demolished.

The Israeli government promised to erect a temporary IDF base at the site to ensure that the structures remain intact while investigating whether the land belongs to the state.

If the land is found to be state-owned, that could pave the way for the settlers to return to their homes. The process of determining ownership could take months or years, and the community was not given a time frame in which to expect a decision.

Originally created after the terrorist slaying of Evyatar Borovsky in 2013 and later cleared out by the IDF, interest in the community was renewed after the shooting death of yeshiva student Yehuda Guetta at the nearby Kfar Tapuach junction in late April 2021.

“The settlement of Evyatar tonight,” wrote Religious Zionism MK Bezalel Smotrich, alongside a video of a fire raging at the site. “Where are the government’s promises for military protection of the settlement after the evacuation of the settlers?! The promises about the [settlement] freeze are going up in flames.”

Palestinians from the nearby village of Beita, who have violently clashed with the IDF and Evyatar residents in an effort to expel the settlers, claim that the hilltop belongs to their village.

For months, Beita residents held nightly disturbances at the outskirts of Evyatar, bearing torches and chanting for the Israelis to leave. Since May 2021, four Palestinians from Beita have been killed during IDF clashes near Evyatar.

The torching of the settlement symbolizes the fears of many settler leaders who had been resistant to the evacuation deal.

“I think a forcible eviction would have been better. At least it would have had a positive impact on the settlement movement,” a Religious Zionism official told Zman Israel in June.

“After forcible evictions, the settlers are always compensated with a new town or neighborhood.”