Settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories have revealed that the government coalition has reached a compromise deal that would prevent the total razing of an illegal West Bank outpost and which would see some parts of the settler site remain in place. A statement released by settlers said residents of the Evyatar outpost overwhelmingly approved the deal with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked, claiming it had been welcomed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
The outpost has grown quickly over the last two months, swelling to roughly 50 structures housing dozens of families. Evyatar’s Facebook page boasts that the settlement prevents contiguity between the surrounding Palestinian villages while connecting the settlement of Tapuah to the Za’atara Junction and Migdalim settlement.
Lawmakers from Hadash in the Joint List slammed the proposal as “legitimizing settlement and crime.” “Instead of homes, this hill will in several weeks house a yeshiva, meaning dozens of young settlers who will only cause more violence, abuse and theft,” MK Aida Touma-Sliman charged in a statement. “Responsibility for this settlement crime lies with all the partners in the coalition,” she said, coalition which includes Meretz and the Islamist Ra’am party. Fellow Hadash MK Ofer Cassif said the proposal is “A shameful move from the new government that continues the occupation policy of Netanyahu’s government and constitutes a war crime by the theft of the lands of three Palestinian communities.” “Four Palestinians have been murdered by occupation forces in defense of these lands,” Cassif said in a statement.
The area around Evyatar has seen repeated clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in recent weeks following the reestablishment of the outpost. Evyatar has already been razed several times, since it was built in 2013, after the murder of Yitzhar resident Evyatar Borovsky in a stabbing attack at the Tapuah Junction.
Palestinian resistance to the outpost settlement has included the hurling of stones at troops by residents of the nearby village of Beita and the burning of swaths of land, with Israeli soldiers responding by firing riot dispersal munitions and live ammunition. In recent weeks, four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the clashes with over 618 others injured.
On Sunday, June 27, two Palestinians civil servants were wounded when Israeli occupation forces attacked them as they were attempting to reopen a road that had been closed by the army by bulldozing mounds of earth to block traffic. Musa Hamayel, a member of Beita Municipality, told the Palestinian news agency WAFA that Israeli occupation forces attacked the municipal workers who were reopening the road, wounding two of them with rubber-coated rounds. He said that following this incident occupation army once again bulldozed the road shut, blocking it with large mounds of earth.
The road closed by the army leads to the promontory Jabal Sabih, where residents of Beita and the surrounding villages have been holding daily rallies to protest the construction of Evyatar. A few months ago, Israeli forces erected yet another colonial settlement outpost atop Jabal Al-Arma, north of Beita. Both it and Evyatar are strategic locations as they overlook the Jordan Valley, a fertile strip of land west of the Jordan River which makes up approximately 30% of the West Bank.