Israeli security forces on Tuesday evicted Jewish families from 15 homes which Israel’s highest court ruled were built illegally on privately-owned Palestinian land in Gush Etzion.
Some 2,500 security personnel were deployed to ensure an orderly evacuation. The families being evicted went peacefully, as they had promised they would. Under a court order, the 15 dwellings are to be demolished within the next few days, 21 months after the High Court first ordered the evacuations.
Hundreds of young protesters gathered in several of the homes slated for demolition. Some of the protesters climbed onto the roof of one dwelling and hoisted Israeli flags.
A few scuffles ensued with police, but for the most part, demonstrators offered passive resistance and were carried away by officers who grabbed hold of their arms and legs. In one home, an Israeli policeman hugged a weeping man as he escorted him out.
Only toward the end of the day’s evacuation, as police prepared to empty the last of the 15 homes, did resistance lead to violence, as about 200 youths tried to block entry into the home, according to The Times of Israel.
Stone- and bottle-throwing by protesters resulted in three officers being slightly injured. Police arrested two protesters, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
“People are being torn from their houses and families are sad,” said Elazar Herz Van Spiegel, 45, a Netiv Haavot resident, whose home was not one of those due to be demolished. “But … we are very optimistic about the future.”
The remainder of Netiv Haavot, where some 20 houses stand on land not covered by the court ruling, is to be granted legal status and designated a neighborhood of an Israeli government-recognized settlement, Elazar, the cabinet decided in February.
The government says it will compensate the residents and rebuild their homes on nearby lands that are not privately owned.
Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said on Tuesday that he will visit the temporary homes of the evacuees this evening, in a show of support for the uprooted community.
Edelstein plans to affix a mezuzah to the doorpost of one of the structures.