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Israeli forces demolish structure in illegal West Bank settlement outpost

Israeli security forces evict protesters from a woodshop in the Netiv Ha'avot settlement in the West Bank, where 17 structures are slated for demolition. November 29, 2017
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Fifteen homes and two non-residential structures in the outpost have been ordered demolished

Israeli security forces demolished a carpentry workshop in illegally built Jewish settlement outpost in the West Bank on Wednesday where some 17 structures are slated for demolition, while Israel’s Attorney General is reportedly considering issuing building permits that would spare portions of six homes found to be only partially built on private Palestinian land.

Some 100 border police officers formed a perimeter around the woodshop in the Netiv Ha’avot outpost near the Etzion settlement bloc, and evicted hundreds of young Jewish settlers squatting there in an attempt to prevent the its demolition.

Fifteen homes in the settlement are slated for demolition by March 2018, while the woodshop and one other non-residential structure had been ordered dismantled before then.

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Protesters started fires at the entrance to the outpost to slow down the eviction. The settlers sang the Israeli national anthem and accused security forces of treachery as they were removed from the woodshop, but the eviction largely took place without violence.

The woodshop, a memorial to fallen IDF soldiers, and 15 homes in the outpost were ordered razed by the High Court of Justice, which sided with a petition filed by Peace Now and several other Palestinian organizations that said the structures were built on privately owned Palestinian lands.

Last month, the High Court rejected a petition from residents seeking to spare six of the nine homes ordered demolished which are built mostly on state-owned lands. Residents had offered to raze the “problematic parts” of the homes.

Israel’s Army Radio reported that Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit mulling granting temporary construction permits to spare parts of six homes which do not infringe on Palestinian land. Justice Ministry sources confirmed the report to the Haaretz daily and said that a decision on the matter is expected soon.

Amir Ayman, a resident of the settlement, told i24NEWS that the community would continue to fight for a solution for the neighborhood and emphasized that he hoped the situation would be resolved with no violence.

"We're not fighting against the soldiers of Israel, we're fighting against the government of Israel, against [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu], against [Education Minister Naftali Bennett], and we're fighting against against all the people that could make decisions on whats going to happen with this community," Ayman said.

The international community considers all Jewish settlements to be illegal, but Israel distinguishes between those it sanctions and those it does not, dubbed outposts.

Clashes between security forces and settlers have erupted during previous settlement evictions. In late January, a lengthy saga over the fate of the wildcat Amona outpost came to a head when hundreds of residents and thousands of their supporters were dramatically dragged out of the outpost which was later demolished.

The Amona eviction prompted Israel to push through controversial legislation retroactively legalizing several thousand settler homes built on private Palestinian land in the West Bank on which Israelis built without knowing it was private property or because the state allowed them to do so.

The bill was frozen in by the country's High Court in August.

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