IDF says that the evacuation of the settlers, who resided in the house for more than two weeks, was completed 'without any unusual events'; officials in PM's office say Nethanyahu 'had no choice' but to approve the evacuation.
By Amos Harel, Gili Cohen, Chaim Levenson and Barak Ravid
4 April 2012 Haaretz
Israeli security forces on Wednesday evacuated Israeli settlers from a house in a Palestinian neighborhood in Hebron, in a surprise move that ended an affair that sparked controversy across Israel and caused a rift in the government.
The IDF said that the evacuation of the settlers, who resided in the house for more than two weeks, was completed "without any unusual events."
Israeli security forces surround a house illegally occupied by settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron, Wednesday, April 4, 2012.
|Photo by: AP|
Senior officials in the prime minister's office said that the evacuation was carried out after careful coordination between the defense minister and the prime minister. Nevertheless, Netanyahu's aides went on the defensive against right-wing criticism and said that the prime minister had no choice but to approve the evacuation out of security and legal consideration.
According to officials in Netanyahu's office, during the late night discussion on Tuesday no decisions were made regarding the immediate evacuation of the house.
However, on Wednesday morning, before the cabinet meeting, Barak met with Netanyahu and told him that he must evacuate the settlers that day, an official said.
Barak said in response he will continue to safeguard law and order by "ensuring the authority of the government over its citizens."
“Attempts to clear up the request permitting the deal and the legality of the purchase will continue in a professional manner, without any delays," Barak said. "A situation in which illegal actions are being taken in order to influence government policy by creating facts on the ground cannot be allowed.”
Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud), a supporter of the settlers, said in an interview with Israel Radio that he “hopes that the prime minister did not know of the intent to evacuate."
"I heard the prime minister, I spoke with the prime minister, and these actions have crossed the line," Edelstein said.
According to Edelstein, the evacuation of the settlers should have been coordinated, and not have come as a surprise carried out by a special police unit.
"Anything is preferable to the kind of surprise we’re experiencing right now," he added. "I am calling on the prime minister to put a stop to this once and for all.”
Earlier on Wednesday, defense officials said that Defense Minister Ehud Barak and a ministerial committee agreed that the house will be evacuated by April 26.
Disagreements whether to evacuate the settlers caused a fiery debate inside the government.
Ya’alon, who participated in the special ministerial meeting on Tuesday night, criticized Barak's decision and said that authority over issues regarding Judea and Samaria settlements must be taken away from Barak, and given to a committee of ministers. “Barak is not solving any problems or signing any urban building plans.”
“Ehud Barak is acting against the government and against the settlements in Judea and Samaria, all that he is doing is fanning the flames,” Ya'alon said Wednesday during a closed discussion.
"It is imperative to check that the settler’s documents of sale are not counterfeit. If it turns out that they are in order, the purchase must be approved and the settlers allowed entry. This is not a national, or a defense issues, the property rights need to be checked. Why does the defense minister claim that such a check will take weeks when it can be done in a few days?”
Defense Minister Ehud Barak fired back at Ya'alon on Wednesday, claiming that the deputy prime minister is making comments against him out of political considerations.
“Unfortunately, Minister Ya’alon is combining cheap political concerns with defense decisions, harming the government’s ability to protect democracy and law and order," officials close to Barak said.
A senior defense official with knowledge of the details of the meeting explained that a decision was reached to evacuate the house if in fact it has been occupied illegally, considering the fact that settlers entered the house without the proper permits from the Civil Administration.
and now compare this treatment of Palestinians legally occupying this house in Hebron!:
Video: Israeli occupation forces violently evict Palestinians from Hebron house
Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Tue, 04/03/2012 - 13:53
Video shows Israeli occupation forces violently evicting Palestinians from a house inHebron. The press release below from Youth Against Settlements, distributed by thePopular Struggle Coordination Committee, explains what happened.
One person, Issa Amro, was arrested during the violent raid, which occurred on Saturday according to the PSCC Twitter account:
Press release: “Youth Against Settlements”: “While we were violently evicted, the army treats settlers with kid gloves.”
Tuesday, 3 April 2012
While Israeli [Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu] and his ministers scramble to prevent the eviction of [Israeli settlers from] a Palestinian-owned house in Hebron that was taken over by Jewish settlers last week, a video documenting the violent eviction of Palestinian activists from a nearby house owned by the Hebron municipality two days ago, shows extensive use of force.
The eviction, which took place on Sunday in the Old City of Hebron, was carried out by a large force of Israeli Border Police officers. During the eviction, the force heavily employed the use of tear-gas and a foul smelling liquid called “The Skunk”. Additionally dozens were physically assaulted, with at least five of the activists ending up at the hospital. The activists, members of the local group “Youth Against Settlements”, intended to renovate and take residence in the house in order to prevent it from being taken over by Israeli settlers.
The video documents Israeli Border Police officers storming the house, dealing blows to the completely peaceful activist using batons and their rifles. While a Dutch who was arrested was already unconditionally released yesterday, the detained Palestinian activist who is a coordinator of the Youth Against Settlements movement, Issa Amro, was only released today after depositing a 1,000 Shekels bond as bail.
The Activists were evicted despite having acquired a written permission to use the premises from the Hebron Women’s Charitable Society, which rents the house from its owners – The Hebron Municipality. Only days earlier, when settlers took over a nearby Palestinian house, Israeli Authorities refrained from employing force, allowing the settlers to remain in the house.
Badia Dwaik, an activist with “Youth Against Settlement”, who was inside the house during the eviction said, “The recent takeover of a nearby house by settlers brought about further restrictions on the already heavily constrained Palestinian movement in the area, including for those families living there. While we were violently evicted from a house we had legal rights to, the army treats settlers who took over a Palestinian house with kid gloves”
Over the years, Israel established a number of settlement points in and around the Old City of Hebron, which had traditionally served as the commercial center for the entire southern West Bank. To perpetuate the settlements in the city, Israeli authorities impose a regime intentionally and openly based on the “separation principle”, as a result of which Israel created legal and physical segregation between the Israeli settlers and the Palestinian majority. This policy led to the economic collapse of the center of Hebron and drove many Palestinians out of the area.
The findings of a survey conducted B’Tselem and ACRI in 2007, show that at least 1,014 Palestinian housing units in the center of Hebron have been vacated by their occupants. This number represents 41.9 percent of the housing units in the relevant area. Sixty-five percent (659) of the empty apartments became vacant during the course of the second intifada.
Regarding Palestinian commercial establishments, 1,829 are no longer open for business. This number represents 76.6 percent of all the commercial establishments in the surveyed area. Of the closed businesses, 62.4 percent (1,141) were closed during the second intifada. At least 440 of them closed pursuant to military orders.
The main elements of Israel’s separation policy are the severe and extensive restrictions on Palestinian movement and the authorities’ compliance with settlers violence directed at Palestinians. The city’s residents also suffer as a direct result of the actions of Israel authorities.
Restriction on Palestinian movement and the closing of businesses
During the first three years of the second intifada, Palestinians in the city center of Hebron were put under curfew for more than 377 days total, including a consecutive period of 182 days, with short breaks to obtain provisions.
In addition, the army created a contiguous strip of land in the City Center along which the movement of Palestinian vehicles is forbidden. The middle of the strip contains many sections of road that the army forbids even Palestinian pedestrians to use. The strip blocks the main north-south traffic artery in the city, and therefore affects the entire city. The extensive prohibitions have led to the closing of hundreds of shops, in addition to those that were closed under military order.
Settlers in Hebron have routinely abused the city’s Palestinian residents, sometimes using extreme violence. Throughout the second intifada, settlers have committed physical assaults, including beatings, at times with clubs, stone throwing, and hurling of refuse, sand, water, chlorine, and empty bottles. Settlers have destroyed shops and doors, committed thefts, and chopped down fruit trees. Settlers have also been involved in gunfire, attempts to run people over, poisoning of a water well, breaking into homes, spilling of hot liquid on the face of a Palestinian, and the killing of a young Palestinian girl. Soldiers are generally positioned on every street corner in and near the settlement points, but in most cases they do nothing to protect Palestinians from settlers’ attacks.
The increased presence of Israeli soldiers and police in the Hebron city center regularly brings with it violence and harassment towards Palestinians. Violence, arbitrary house searches, seizure of houses, harassment, detaining passersby, and humiliating treatment have become part of daily reality for Palestinians and have led many of them to move to safer places.
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