While the political establishment debates the future of Amona, the IDF, Border Guards and police are preparing for the eventual evacuation of the site. According to the High Court ruling that orders the demolition of homes built on land claimed by Arabs, the state has until December 25th to order the army and security forces to evacuate and destroy homes at the site.
An IDF source told Maariv that preparations were in full swing, both for the direct evacuation of the site, and to prevent protestors from reinforcing residents who refuse to leave. “From our perspective, we are ready to act,” the official said. “We have informed the political echelon what is needed to carry out this mission. When we receive our orders we will act accordingly.”
Orders have been signed to set up caravans for the use of evacuated residents at a site several hundred meters away from the buildings to be demolished. That land is being administered by the IDF under the Absentee Property Law, in which the government takes over administration of parcels of land whose owners are not interested in or capable of taking legal action to prevent use of their assets. The residents would live there for several months, until new homes in a neighborhood of Shilo are ready for them.
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. Netanyahu has been very anxious to avoid a repeat of those scenes during his administration.
As it appeared Monday night, residents seemed unlikely to go quietly. In a statement earlier Monday, the Amona Residents Committee said “We will not bow to the will of the far left to destroy a flourishing settlement, to evict 200 children from their homes, and to call it ‘a good deal,’” as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett have termed the transfer of residents to the adjacent parcels of land. “True leadership is tested at the moment of truth, and for hundreds of thousands of people Amona is the true test and symbol of the struggle for the Land of Israel. He who surrenders on Amona surrenders on Ofra, Beit El, Chevron, and the future of Jewish settlement in Yehudah and Shomron altogether.
“Those who shake in fear from false political threats will be unable to stand strong in the face of true threats,” the statement said, in a clear reference to their disappointment in Bennett, who had previously said that he would take the fight for Amona all the way to new elections, if needed. “We reiterate: The destruction of Amona will not take place peacefully. Those responsible for this will bear that responsibility in the future. Thousands will come to defend our homes.”
About a week before the evacuation, the IDF Central Command will impose a closure on roads and paths leading to the site. The purpose is to prevent protesters from arriving and reinforcing opponents of the evacuation. In addition, orders banning the entry of some 15 right-wing activists, whom police say are likely to disturb the evacuations and provoke riots, are to be issued. Several of those activists could be placed under administrative detention.