Israel evicts settlers from West Bank outpost

2017-02-02 06:54
Settlers climb on top of a trailer in the Amona outpost in the West Bank after Israeli forces  begun evacuating settlers. (Ariel Schalit, AP)

Settlers climb on top of a trailer in the Amona outpost in the West Bank after Israeli forces begun evacuating settlers. (Ariel Schalit, AP)

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Amona - Israeli police began evicting dozens of hardline Jewish settlers from a wildcat outpost on Wednesday, just hours after unveiling plans for 3 000 new homes in other West Bank settlements.

The announcement of new settler homes was the fourth since US President Donald Trump took office less than two weeks ago, having signalled a softer stance on Israeli settlement building.

Army roadblocks

It was seen as a sop to supporters of the Amona outpost where hundreds of police officers moved in to carry out the evictions after the High Court determined the homes were built on private Palestinian land.

The operation marked the end of months of attempts by government hardliners to legalise the outpost near Ramallah.

There had been fears of violence after hundreds of hardline sympathisers of the settlers slipped past army roadblocks on foot and lit tyres around the outpost.

Some threw stones at the media as residents started packing their belongings.

Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said that about 3 000 officerswere in and around Amona to move the 42 families, "and hopefully people will evacuate the area peacefully and quietly."

He estimated that another 600 people who were not from the outpost had arrived for the eviction.

"We're hoping that things will go relatively calmly and quietly. We're ready to respond if necessary to any violence," he said.

Police arrested four protesters and distanced dozens of others from Amona, with seven of the families so far evacuating peacefully with their children.

Various stages

The former US administration of Barack Obama despaired of Israel's accelerating settlement expansion which it regarded as the biggest obstacle to Middle East peace.

But since Donald Trump took office with top aides sympathetic to the settlement enterprise, the government has announced a string of new projects that will add more than 6 000 homes for Jewish settlers.

According to the defence ministry's statement, 2 000 of the latest new homes are ready to be put on the market, while the rest are in various stages of planning.

Read more on:    donald trump  |  barack obama  |  israel  |  palestine territory

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