11 Israeli police officers injured, 2 settlers arrested as Israel evacuates homes in Ofra outpost

12:00 Feb 28 2017 הסלע/התאנה, התאנה, Ofra

11 Israeli police officers injured, 2 settlers arrested as Israel evacuates homes in Ofra outpost 11 Israeli police officers injured, 2 settlers arrested as Israel evacuates homes in Ofra outpost 11 Israeli police officers injured, 2 settlers arrested as Israel evacuates homes in Ofra outpost
Scene. Published by Maan News

Pro-settlement activists gather in a house in the settlement of Ofra during an operation by Israeli forces to demolish nine homes there, February 28, 2017. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi. Published by Haaretz

Israeli policemen remove a pro-settlement activist during an operation by Israeli forces to evict residents from several homes in the Israeli settlement of Ofra, February 28, 2017. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi.
Pubished by Haaretz

Israeli policemen stand during the evacuation of residents from several homes in the Israeli settlement of Ofra, in the West Bank, February 28, 2017. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi. Published by Haaretz

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Two Israeli settlers were arrested while at least eleven Israeli police officers sustained light injuries Tuesday as Israeli forces began evacuating nine homes in the illegal Israeli Ofra outpost, located in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, according to Israeli police and media.

The nine homes were built illegally in 2008 on private Palestinian land, and were ordered to be demolished by the Israeli high court in 2015, with the final demolition date set at March 5, 2017.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement Tuesday that eleven Israeli police officer sustained “minor bruises and even bites” as two settlers were arrested “on suspicion of assaulting police officers and disturbing the peace,” during the evacuation of the homes.

Israeli news daily Haaretz reported that while eight homes had been cleared out -- with the residents of the homes leaving voluntarily -- hundreds of extreme right-wing Israelis and pro-settler activists had barricaded themselves inside the final ninth home, upon request of the family.

On Monday, Israel’s high court rejected an appeal by Ofra settlers to halt the upcoming evacuation, requesting that the nine buildings be sealed off rather than destroyed, in hopes that the homes would be eligible for retroactive legalization in accordance with the “Regularization law” passed earlier this month.

The law could grant official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank established on private Palestinian lands.

The law states that any settlements built in the West Bank “in good faith” -- without knowledge that the land upon which it was built was privately owned by Palestinians -- could be officially recognized by Israel pending minimal proof of governmental support in its establishment and some form of compensation to the Palestinian landowners.

The high court ruled, however, that the law does not apply to the nine homes and that the demolitions must be carried out.

Prior to the passage of the Regularization law, Ynet reported that Israeli officials had met with settlers from the illegal Ofra outpost to inform them of Netanyahu’s determination to pass the bill into law, as well approve the construction of 68 housing units there.

Meanwhile, Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has repeatedly stated that the bill contravenes both Israeli and international law and that the Israeli Supreme Court would likely strike it down, while Israeli officials have also reportedly expressed worry that the passage of the bill could land Israel in the ICC.

Tuesday’s scenes at Ofra of hundreds of pro-settler activists barricading themselves inside homes, protesting, and clashing with mostly unarmed Israeli police officers mirrored the evacuation of the illegal Amona outpost earlier this month, in which 13 Israeli settlers were arrested and 24 Israeli police officers were injured.

Like the nine homes in Ofra, the Amona outpost was excluded from the 16 outposts that would be retroactively legalized as a result of the Regularization law.

At the time of Amona evacuation, head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh, a member of the Knesset and a Palestinian citizen of Israel, criticized the police’s double standard between use of force in Amona and in Bedouin villages in the Negev.

“Amona is being evacuated after being built on Palestinian lands that were stolen 20 years ago, while Umm al-Hiran residents were being evacuated from their own lands, without stealing anyone else's lands,” Odeh said in a post on Facebook, referring to the deadly evacuation of a Bedouin village in January, during which the MK himself was injured.
“Unarmed Israeli police is evacuating Amona in broad daylight, where they are being very cautious in dealing with Israeli settlers, while Israeli police carried out demolitions in Umm al-Hiran completely armed and equipped with military supplies,” Odeh added.

Hundreds Barricaded as Israel Evacuates West Bank Settlement Homes

Eight of the nine homes built on Palestinian lands in Ofra evacuated; a 17-year-old has been arrested for assaulting officers; three policeman lightly injured.

by Gili Cohen and Yotam Berger for Haaretz
Feb 28, 2017 4:24 PM

Hundreds of police officers have evacuated eight of nine homes slated for demolition the West Bank settlement of Ofra. The High Court had ordered the demolition of the homes, which were built on private Palestinian land.
Hundreds of youths barricaded themselves in one of the houses, which is currently being evacuated. The families of the other eight homes have made it clear they seek a quiet evacuation.

Police said the evacuation was proceeding relatively calmly, but noted that three officers had sustained light injures. Two were bitten and one suffered a head wound.

A 17-year-old was also arrested for assaulting officers. According to the police, the families residing in the nine homes have already cleared out, and what's left is to extract the protesters barricaded inside.

The police stated they are trying to come to an agreement with the local settler leadership in order to "avoid friction and unnecessary confrotation with security forces" in implementing the court order.

On Monday, the High Court of Justice rejected a request by the occupants of the nine homes to have the buildings sealed rather than torn down. The court had ordered the homes demolished by Sunday.

Residents of the homes slated for demolition had been preparing for their eviction. They called on members of the public to come to the settlement on Tuesday morning in protest the impending demolitions.

The homes in question were build illegally in 2008, and the same year the Palestinian landowners and the Yesh Din human rights group petitioned the High Court for their removal. Although the court issued an interim injunction against occupying the buildings, the families moved in anyway.

The High Court ordered the demolition of the nine homes two years ago. They were supposed to be evacuated and dismantled no later than February 8, but the deadline was deferred for a month.

The court said that the new land legalization law, which expropriates private Palestinian land in the West Bank, does not apply to the nine homes.
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