Forced removal of 200 Israeli settlers shakes Netanyahu gov’t


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Some 200 young adult demonstrators were removed from two illegal apartment buildings slated for demolition in a West Bank Jewish settlement.

Some 50 demonstrators were arrested, and the rest were dispersed using riot control measures early Tuesday morning in Beit El, which is about 20 miles north of Jerusalem. Hundreds of Israeli police officers were on the scene.

Police reportedly had arrived in Beit El in the early hours of the morning in an attempt to prevent demonstrators from reaching the settlement.

The buildings were found to have been constructed on privately constructed Palestinian land and ordered demolished in 2010. Israel’s Supreme Court gave the state until Thursday to demolish the buildings, known as the Dreinoff neighborhood.

Members of the right-wing Jewish Home party, a member of the government coalition, threatened to bring down the government over the demolition.

“Ten years on from the disengagement, someone has forgotten that this time around, the nationalist camp possesses public and political power,” Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett said in a statement.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement following the evacuation that his government was opposed to razing the Beit El homes.

“We’re acting to bolster the settlements, and we’re doing so in accordance with the law,” he said. “Our stance regarding the houses in Beit El is clear. We are opposed to demolishing them and are pursuing judicial courses to prevent such a step.”

Also overnight Tuesday, more than 200 people returned to the northern West Bank village of Sa-Nur to mark the 10th anniversary of its evacuation during the Gaza disengagement. Many of those on hand were families that were evicted from the settlement.

The demonstrators took over an old British fort located in the village and announced that they were planning to remain.

The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday warned that it will forcibly remove the demonstrators if they do not leave voluntarily.

Among those occupying the fort are Jewish Home lawmakers Aryeh Eldad and Bezalel Smotrich.

“Ten years after the disengagement, it’s about time to fix things. And that begins here, in northern Samaria,” Smotrich said in a statement. “Families have begun settling into the rooms of the fort with the intention of staying for some time. We don’t intend to move from here.”

Recommended from JTA