Police injured while evacuating illegal outpost in Samaria

Several officers were injured by youths resisting the destruction of 10 homes in Tapuach West. Demonstrators countered with accusations of police using excessive force.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Several police officers were injured in Sunday’s clashes with protesting youths in an outpost of the Samarian village of Tapuach, part of which is to be destroyed as per a Supreme Court ruling from last year.

According to police, protestors threw bleach, sticks, eggs and rocks at them, and 11 had to be treated for burns. Six teens were arrested for assault and rioting, they added.

The youths claimed that security forces were using “excessive force” while removing them from the area, injuring five. One victim, they claimed, received a serious head injury but police refused to allow him medical attention.

A large police force had arrived Saturday night with an order declaring the area a closed military zone. They began evacuating hundreds of youths struggling to protect some 17 structures that were declared illegal in February 2017 and slated to be torn down.

Dozens of teens were loaded onto buses that brought them to Ofra, a village several miles away, according to the Honenu legal aid organization, but only one arrest was made – of a teen who was then released to house arrest for five days.

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan claimed that the residents had already moved “most” of the structures away from the area declared by the Supreme Court as private Palestinian property – a distance of a few dozen meters — and that therefore there was no reason to destroy them. Five of the 17 buildings are family homes; the rest were built for agricultural use.

“It is inconceivable that a government that calls itself a national government will lend a hand to the continued persecution of families who have already invested and transferred the structures in advance,” he stated.

In a letter sent Sunday morning to Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Dagan asked him “to urgently delay the demolition of houses that were transferred … because this is really a ‘voluntary evacuation’ that is not necessary.”

There are another 18 structures that the state has asked the court not to order destroyed, even though they were built without permission, because they are on “state land” that the government plans to legalize. In addition, the government has said that it will promote building permits for the entire village of Kfar Tapuach, which would enable it to triple in size.

Dagan readily acknowledged the silver lining to the harsh court ruling, saying, “It is a comfort, and I’m glad that we managed to sweeten the pill and that the petition will eventually lead to an increase in settlement.” Nevertheless, he insisted that “the uprooting of families from their homes after years of living in the are, should not become a common sight in the State of Israel.”