[Eyewitness Report] Protesters and police clash at forced evacuation of ‘settler’ outpost in Judea

Residents of the Judea region stood their ground as security forces arrived to dismantle structures in a community deemed “illegal” by the high court.

By: Steve Leibowitz, World Israel News

Acting on a high court evacuation ruling, Israeli security forces on Wednesday demolished a wood shop in an outpost called Netiv Ha’avot, which is a neighborhood on the outskirts of the town of Elazar within the Etzion Bloc of the Judea region. All of the residents of Elazar were sent an alert that the evacuation was underway, and protesters headed to the site to confront the security forces.

Protester Joshua Hasten, who videotaped the event and was one of several hundred protesters who made their way to the small Jewish community, spoke to World Israel News on Wednesday morning. The protesters arrived in an effort to block the evacuation of one building, a carpentry shop that was ordered to be demolished by the high court, along with 17 other structures. Only the carpentry shop was targeted on the first day of evacuation.

An Elazar resident, Hasten told World Israel News, “We expected the evacuation today, we had eyes on the ground and within minutes we had about one hundred people inside the carpentry shop. Many young people from all over Judea and Samaria slept in the area and they were all ready and willing to take a stand.”

In Netiv Avot, forces have arrived to tear down one family’s livelihood built in an area supported by the government with zero proof of a private landowner. It’s about sticking it to the “settlers” and the religious Zionist camp. #baselesshatred

Posted by Joshua Hasten on Tuesday, November 28, 2017

The protesters could see more than 100 male and female police officers and border police gathering nearby on Derech Ha’avot Road.

“It’s a pattern we are used to,” said Hasten adding, “We saw it in the Gush Katif and Amona evacuations. The officers create a large perimeter, no one in and no one out. Then they made a smaller circle around the area to be evacuated. That’s where the clashes take place.”

‘Pushing and shoving, but no punches’

Hasten said that all protesters were given instructions to avoid violence and offer only “passive resistance.”

The security forces closed the circle around the carpentry shop. They began by breaking open the door on the flimsy structure and then began breaking down the walls. “They reached our female protesters, mostly high school girls first,” said Hasten.

“They had women soldiers carrying out each protester. There was much shouting and quite a bit of pushing and shoving, but no punches were thrown.” According to Hasten, the police threatened to break the arms of those resisting, but there was no excessive violence.

Dragging the women

Posted by Joshua Hasten on Tuesday, November 28, 2017

“At least 100 protesters, including me were thrown out of the structure before being carried away. There was about a one meter drop and some fell on barbed wire, but there were no serious injuries,” Hasten added.

It was a painstaking removal process, made worse by several fires set by protesters. As they were being removed the protesters blew whistles and sang the national anthem. There was also some shouting including those who shouted at the security forces “traitors,” and “a Jew doesn’t remove another Jew from the land of Israel.”

After about three hours of clashes and removal, the carpentry shop was evacuated of protesters and the structure was demolished. Community leaders told the protesters that they had succeeded because their resistance brought a great deal of attention to the issue, which centers on the remaining 17 structures that are slated for demolition by March 2018. The remaining structures include a memorial for fallen IDF soldiers and 15 partially built homes.

Protesters denounce ‘moral injustice’

“This makes no sense,” explains Hasten. “The government recently spent about NIS 300,000 for infrastructure including roads, electricity and water for this place. We still have hope that the demolition order by the court will be rescinded. The government needs to step up and take sovereignty over this area and the other Jewish communities in the land of Israel.”

Hasten laments the fact that a 2014 high court petition by an organization called Peace Now led to the evacuation. According to Hasten, the court ruled in favor of evacuation even though there has been no claim or proof of ownership by any private Arab resident.

In response, the government council for Judea and Samaria (Yesha) issued a statement saying, “The High Court of Justice ruling on the matter is a moral injustice, and the demolition threat is still pending on another 15 homes in the neighborhood. We demand that the Israeli government act urgently to do everything in its power to legalize the Netiv Ha’avot neighborhood.”

Indeed, some of the buildings may be saved. Residents claim that six of the houses infringe only marginally on private land and they are hoping for a ruling that requires that they remove the problematic sections of the homes in question. Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is reportedly working on a solution for those dwellings.

For the Yesha Council and supporters of the settlement movement, the bigger question relates to the future of the territories.

Yesha official Oden Revivi told reporters, “The events in Netiv Ha’avot this morning confirm once again that Israel needs to implement a comprehensive legal policy in Judea and Samaria. For 50 years, successive Israeli governments have passed the buck without implementing. There are ample legal grounds to avoid these destructive and unnecessary actions. Sadly, the government’s inability to implement policy has led to the destruction of yet another Jewish building in Judea.”

Live from Netiv Avot part 2

Posted by Joshua Hasten on Tuesday, November 28, 2017