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Evacuation of Elon Moreh Begins

January 30, 1980
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The evacuation of Elon Moreh began today, more than three months after the Supreme Court declared the Gush Emunim settlement on the West Bank illegal and ordered its removal within 30 days. The first families were settled tonight in new, more spacious houses built for them by the government at Djebil Kebir. The remainder are expected to move tomorrow. Four families refused to budge from Elon Moreh but indicated that they would not resist evacuation by force.

The new site at Djebil Kebir is six miles from Elon Moreh but closer to Nablus, the largest Arab town on the West Bank. Benny Katzover, secretary of Elon Moreh, said he was satisfied with the new settlement on which the government reportedly spent more than $1 million to house 17 families. He said he still hoped that the abandoned site at Elon Moreh would eventually be resettled by Jews. The other settlers appeared gloomy and refused to be interviewed by the press.

The peaceful evacuation of Elon Moreh ended, for the time being, a bitter controversy that began when the Gush Emunim seized the site in the Samaria district of the West Bank last June, claiming it was part of Israel’s Biblical heritage. The government justified the settlement on security grounds. But the Supreme Court, acting on an appeal by local Arabs whose lands were seized, ruled last Oct. 22 that there was no evidence to support the security argument.

Elon Moreh is the first Jewish settlement on the West Bank to be dismantled since Israel occupied the territory in 1967.

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