Violent confrontation in Amona as police clash with hilltop youth

Twenty-three police and seven youths barricaded inside the structures were reported injured. Activists say that 55 protesters were hurt in excessive police force. 

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Police arrived at the Amona outpost on the outskirts of Ofra in the southern Samarian hills early Thursday morning and forcibly removed a few hundred Israelis, mostly youth, as well as the mobile homes that had been brought up to the hilltop.

According to the police, 200 youths who barricaded themselves in the structures poured oil on the road and threw objects in an attempt to prevent the evacuation.

By the completion of the three-hour eviction, 23 officers had been injured, primarily from stones thrown by the protesters, and at least four teenagers were hurt in the clashes, according to police.

One officer was stabbed in the hand by a sharp object allegedly carried by one of the teens. One activist was hurt by a stone that apparently was thrown by one of the other protesters. The injured were taken to hospital in Jerusalem.

Police said that seven of the activists were detained for questioning.

Activists claimed that 55 people were hurt, including some who sustained serious blows to the head. They said that the security forces employed excessive force, firing rubber-coated bullets and stun grenades, dragging activists out of the two makeshift structures and throwing them into the buses that evacuated them.

The two mobile homes had been brought to the hilltop on December 14. The legal establishment had issued an ultimatum to those who had brought the mobile homes to remove them.

However, those behind it argue that the land was purchased legally and all that is missing is the authorization of the political echelon, ultimately Benjamin Netanyahu, who currently serves as both prime minister and defense minister. His authorization is necessary because Amona is located in Judea and Samaria.

The structures were brought to the site as a sign of protest and solidarity in the immediate aftermath of two deadly terror attacks in the Ofra area.

A spokesman for Binyamin Regional Council, chairman Yisrael Gantz, said Wednesday that there was no intention of adhering to the state’s request to take down the structures.

History of clashes

Amona was established in 1995. On February 1, 2006, after a protracted legal battle, some 10,000 Israeli police officers, border police, and soldiers arrived to demolish nine of the structures there, in accordance with a court order.

In clashes with the approximately 4,000 people protesting the demolition, over 220 people were injured, according to official figures, including two Knesset members.

Youth in Amona lighting fires prior to their removal by the Israeli Police. (TPS/Hodaya Saadya)

The remaining Amona homes were demolished in February 2017 after the High Court of Justice ruled that they, too, had been built on private Arab land.

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The National Union Party charged Thursday that Netanyahu had begun his campaign for the April Knesset election by uprooting Jews from their homes. The prime minister could have solved the bureaucratic problem with “one hand” and strengthened the settlements. Instead, he preferred to remain steadfast to his tradition of dismantling them, the party added.

The party noted that the illegal Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar is still standing despite a court order to demolish it.  Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel called on Netanyahu to stop the evacuation at Amona and reroute the forces to Khan Al-Ahmar.