Tensions rise in the West Bank as the Israeli police force ousts settlers

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The Israeli government sent a multitude of police officers to clear the illegal West Bank settlement of Amona.The order prompted a clash with hundreds of angry protestors who tried to prevent the removal.

The clash turned violent as several officers were injured while clearing a synagogue of 200 people who had barricaded themselves in the outpost’s last inhabited building.
Protestors tried to combat police by spraying fire extinguishers and throwing items including rocks, pain bottles and wooden planks at officers.

Anger at the police force even prompted some protestors to spray-paint images of swastikas on the wall of the synagogue in order to draw a parallel between Nazis and the Israeli police force. The decision to clear out the illegal Amona settlement on the West Bank was delivered last week.

Amona was one of the largest illegal settlements on the West Bank. As such, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to begin the construction of a new settlement as soon as possible.

There are about 100 illegal outposts on the West Bank. Amona was home to about 40 families, who have since been removed. These settlements represented the focal point of the Israeli settler movement. The settler movement began back in the late 1960s as a consequence of the Six-Day War in 1967.

The aim of the movement, which was founded by Rabbi Moshe Lavinger, was to promote Jewish settlement in the ancient Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria on the West Bank.

In 2014, the Israeli Supreme Court declared that the Amona outpost had been built illegally on privately owned Palestinian land, prompting an order to raze the community. The razing and evacuation had been delayed by Mr. Netanyahu for as long as was legally allowed.

The delay was a result of concerns by the prime minister that removing the settlers would decrease his popularity with right-wing Israeli voter, who have traditionally been supporters of the settlement of land that is historically Jewish.

Still, the evacuation of Amona is largely perceived as a minor blow to supporters of the settlement movement. In fact, they are projected to make gains in the future.

Just hours before the police force made its way to Amona, Mr. Netanyahu’s government approved the construction of 3,000 more settler housing units in the West Bank.
Despite domestic support, the plans for these new units are viewed as a violation of international law by other world leaders. Furthermore, Mr. Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have been working to retroactively legalize other settler outposts that are situated on public lands.

Palestinians have voiced their opposition. Plans to expand Israel’s West Bank settlements is a major threat to the two-state solution with a full Palestine working alongside Israel for which they had hoped.

Although confirmed by neither party, some see the sudden acceleration in the push for settlements as indicative of faith by the Netanyahu administration that the incoming American administration will be more supportive of settlement efforts.

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