First Houses Under Construction at Amichai

YERUSHALAYIM -
Heavy machinery work on a field as construction work of Amichai, a new settlement which will house the families evicted from Amona, gets underway. (Reuters/Ronen Zvulun)

Construction began on Wednesday on the first homes in the new town of Amichai, the town that was approved for the families who were evicted from their homes in Amona. The town, which was born in wake of the forced eviction and demolition of the Shomron community of Amona, is being built near Shiloh, a bit further south from where Amona was located. The town will eventually have 1,100 homes, and all former residents of Amona will receive homes there.

The site chosen was the scene of numerous attempts to set up an unauthorized outpost – and as many attempts by police and the IDF to tear down the tents and temporary structures that spring up there occasionally. Considered a bastion of the “hilltop youth,” the site was frequently on the radar of police who sought to question activists about various “price tag” attacks. Infrastructure work at the site began last June, and after several starts and stops, was finally completed last month.

“It’s been a difficult year for residents,” who were forced to leave their homes in Amona last February, said the Amona Residents Council in a statement. “They lived as refugees in a youth hostel after being thrown out of their homes. Today, the first caravans and homes are being set up in Amichai, with the town being built in broad daylight. Today we begin seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, and we are hopeful we will be able to move into our new homes before Pesach.”

In 2006, the state forcibly evacuated residents from Amona. Then, 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. Leading the country at that time was Ehud Olmert, who was acting prime minister after Ariel Sharon had a massive stroke in January. Both Sharon and Olmert, leaders of the Kadima party, had already shown their willingness to forcibly remove Jews from their homes a year earlier during the disengagement from Gaza and northern Shomron – and were bitterly criticized for both moves by Binyamin Netanyahu, the current prime minister. The February 2017 evacuation did not engender the same protests, because of the government’s promise to build Amichai.