Police remove Amona residents ahead of demolition

Israeli police, acting on court orders, evacuated the residents of Amona from their homes.  

The 42 families living in the Israeli community of Amona in Samaria were removed from their homes by large police forces on Wednesday.

Some 3,000 policemen and members of other security branches participated in the operation, code-named “Locked Garden,” to remove the families from their homes and subsequently demolish the structures.

A small group of youth set fire to tires in an attempt to halt the evacuation. Others barricaded themselves inside the structures.

The residents themselves have repeatedly called for non-violent, passive resistance to the evacuation. Nine families left voluntarily, while others were dragged out by the police.

Learning their lessons from a violent evacuation of a different part of Amona in 2006, the police forces did not come armed and did their utmost to minimize friction and carry through with their mission in a peaceful manner.

One officer reportedly did not carry out the evacuation orders. According to Police Spokeswoman Merav Lapidot, the officer had not refused to obey orders, but was overcome by emotion and unable to carry out the mission.

Some demonstrators were arrested, and and some 15 policemen were slightly injured.

‘A Dark Day for Zionism’

“This is a dark day for us, for Zionism, for the state and for the great vision of the Jewish people returning to its homeland,” Avichay Buaron, a spokesman for Amona, stated.

The operation was executed after the IDF on Tuesday ordered the residents to leave their homes within 48 hours, pending their destruction under court order.

Amona, built in the 1990s, is under a 2014 court order to be evacuated by February 8 because it was allegedly built on private Palestinian land.

According to an agreement reached between the residents of Amona and the government of Israel, 24 of Amona’s 42 families were to be relocated to nearby plots on the same hill where Amona now stands. The government would construct replacement homes at the new site and build a new neighborhood for the remaining 18 families at a separate location in Samaria.

These replacement plots were to have been located on what was thought to be unclaimed land, and were to be incorporated as state land through the Absentee Property Law.

However, Palestinians are now claiming ownership of these replacement plots. Palestinian residents of the nearby village of Silwad say they own the land.

The High Court of Justice held a hearing on the claims in Tuesday, but has yet to issue a ruling on the matter.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett said that “out of the ruins of Amona, a new community will arise. There will be new kindergartens [and Jewish communities] around Judea and Samaria and a new legal order – and order that legalizes all Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria. Out of this painful day we [will proceed towards] applying Israeli sovereignty to all of Judea and Samaria.”

In an apparent response to the evacuation of Amona, Israel announced on Tuesday plans to build 3,000 homes in Judea and Samaria.

By: Aryeh Savir, World Israel News