TEL AVIV, ISRAEL — Israel plans to pay illegal Israeli settlers $16.7 million in compensation for demolishing their homes. The settlers, their supporters, and right-wing Israeli ministers have been protesting the move.
Fifteen buildings were set to be demolished in the illegal settlement of Netiv HaAvot. The settlement, south of Bethlehem, is in the occupied West Bank and the buildings were built on private Palestinian land. The buildings will be demolished because they were constructed on private land. The compensation funds will be used to rebuild the structures on nearby land in the occupied West Bank that is “not privately owned.”
Israel’s Education Minister and leader of the orthodox Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennett, called the demolitions “senseless,” adding:
This is a difficult night. It is incomprehensible to the residents of the Netiv HaAvot neighbourhood and for everyone who has settled the precious land of Israel.”
Netiv HaAvot was established in 2001. According to Peace Now, an Israeli movement advocating peace through public pressure, on September 1st, 2016 the Supreme Court ordered the “illegal houses the were built on private Palestinian land in the outpost of Nativ Ha’avot will be dismantled by March 6th, 2018. Since this ruling, the settlers have imposed tremendous pressure on the government to resist the implementation of the ruling. They issued a public campaign full of misleading information, inaccuracies and downright lies, in order to raise public support for their struggle.”
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The court ordered that the structures be demolished by March 8, 2018 but residents were later given a three month extension in order to arrange temporary housing, where they will live for the next two years.
As reported by Haaretz, in the first week of 2017 alone, Israel demolished the homes of 151 Palestinians, including 90 children. During this same time, Israeli forces bulldozed land dotted with structures such as rainwater cisterns and agricultural sheds. In 2016 Civil Administration demolished “150 shacks, sheep pens, tents and various sanitary structures – as well as a school that had been built thanks to European contributions” in four separate raids.
While illegal Israeli settlers are awarded additional time to secure temporary housing and funds to rebuild their homes, Palestinians are required to pay the Civil Administration a few thousand shekels ransom to retrieve property that was confiscated during raids, including agricultural machines like tractors.
On Tuesday, Israeli officials began evacuating the homes set for demolition in Hetiv HaAvot. According to Jerusalem Post, there was some pushback by local residents, but they were dealt with “gently.” Jerusalem Post continued:
A different boy was forcefully carried out of the home, his face was red and tear stained, and he too was gently placed on the ground. A police officer put an arm around him in a bid to comfort him.”
This treatment comes in stark contrast to the treatment of Palestinians by both Israeli settlers themselves and Israeli officials alike. Illegal settlers frequently engage in violent behavior directed toward Palestinians including, “blocking roads, throwing stones at cars and houses, raiding villages and farmland, torching fields and olive groves, and damaging crops and property to physical assault, sometimes to the point of hurling Molotov cocktails or using live fire.” Law enforcement condones these actions by allowing them to happen, providing escorts for the settlers, or engaging in very same actions along side the settlers.
The UN Security Council overwhelmingly approved Resolution 2334 in 2016. The United States abstained from voting in the resolution that considers Israeli settlements in the occupied territories as “illegal” – calling for their termination. Despite that, there are an estimated 588,000 settlers in the West Bank.
In direct opposition to Resolution 2334, the Jewish Home Party and Minister of Education in the Israeli government, Naftali Bennett, said this week that the occupied West Bank and all of its illegal settlements will “soon become part of the State of Israel.” His statement was in response to the evacuation and demolition of the 15 homes in Netiv HaAvot.
Top Photo | Jewish settlers march during a demonstration against a proposed decision to evacuate the Jewish-only West Bank colony of Beit El near Ramallah. (AP/Ariel Schalit)
Emma Fiala is MPN’s Editorial Assistant and social media guru. She is also a documentary photographer, mom of two, and an independent journalist. Her stories have been featured on MintPress News, the Anti-Media, Media Roots, Zero Hedge, the Mind Unleashed and Steemit. Find her on Twitter.