Gov’t Authorizes 98 New Homes to Replace Amona

A view of the Jewish outpost community of Amona. (Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)
A view of the Jewish outpost community of Amona. (Noam Moskowitz/Flash90)

The Amona Protest Committee said on Motzoei Shabbos that despite the authorization for construction of 98 new housing units not far from the current location of the community by the government, they had no intention of moving. “No one is leaving their home of 20 years to move to a different home,” the group said. “This would not happen anywhere else in the world. This attempt to make us move is the exact meaning of the word ‘transfer,’ to rip apart the ties between children, their homes and their familiar lives, and transfer them with all the trauma that entails, essentially turning them into refugees.”

The authorization for construction of the homes – which will likely be built at the outpost of Shvut Rachel, near Shilo in the Binyamin region, not far from Amona – was made on Wednesday, but was not released for public knowledge until Friday. The homes are to be built to replace 17 units in Amona, which are supposed to be demolished by the end of 2017, according to a High Court ruling.

The Amona saga goes back to 2006, when the High Court ruled that the outpost located in the Binyamin region was built on land claimed by Palestinian families. In February of that year, police and officials of the Civil Administration evacuated and razed nine buildings, facing down 4,000 Israeli protesters in a traumatic operation that saw dozens of people, including three MKs, injured.

Since then, the state has sought ways to prevent further demolitions, although various defense ministers have insisted that the remaining homes on the site will be demolished. The original settlers of Amona claim that the land was purchased from Palestinians, a claim disputed by Peace Now, which organized a petition of the claimants to demolish the homes.

The High Court had previously ruled that houses built on land claimed by Palestinians, even if those claims are unsubstantiated, must be demolished and cannot be rebuilt for as long as a decade, as evidence is gathered regarding ownership. The court in 2014 reaffirmed its earlier ruling and insisted that all the buildings on the site be demolished.

According to the protest committee, “There is a reason that transfer is seen as a war crime, not just the act of moving people from one place to another. That is the reason the High Court recently ruled that Bedouin tribes who squatted on Jewish-owned land in the Negev could not be removed, saying that ‘even though these tribes could legally be removed, the letter of the law does not provide justification for everything.’ That is true for us as well. We are not potatoes or chess pieces that can be moved around at will.”