Demolition of Unlawful West Bank Outpost Leads to 4 Arrests, Provoking Protest from Settlers
Israeli security forces on Wednesday evacuated an illegal outpost, Givat Sde Yonatan, located in the West Bank sparking a backlash from settler activists and some members of the hardline coalition. During the operation, four settlers were arrested following skirmishes with Border Police officers and Civil Administration personnel. The outpost, situated near Ma’ale Michmash, was reportedly built on private Palestinian land according to unnamed security officials. The aftermath of the evacuation saw residents reporting the destruction of their homes, a sheep pen, and the confiscation of equipment.
Allegations Against Force’s Commander
The actions of the force’s commander, Miki Biton, drew criticism when he was caught on camera threatening a resident. A police statement confirmed that his behavior would be investigated. Activists from the outpost alleged police violence against protestors. They claimed that local Arabs celebrated the evacuation and criticized the Israeli government for not protecting the settlements. The activists also accused any silent lawmakers of complicity in the “crime.”
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich’s Role
This is the third time that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s current administration has evacuated a settlement outpost. The evacuation was likely approved by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who also has authority over civilian issues in the West Bank. Smotrich is known for his pro-settlement stance and advocacy for the annexation of the West Bank. Previously, security forces evacuated A’ira Shahar, another illegal outpost, which was also built on private Palestinian land.
Understanding the Legalities
Israel distinguishes between settlement homes built and permitted by the state and illegal outposts often constructed without necessary permits, usually on private Palestinian land. Despite this, outposts are occasionally created with the state’s unofficial approval, and successive governments have tried to legalize some of these unrecognized neighborhoods.
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