Last updated: 28 June, 2012

Israel finishing West Bank outpost evacuation

Israel on Thursday completed the evacuation of the Ulpana settlement outpost in the West Bank, after a deal with residents to build them new homes nearby, police said.

One family still left on Thursday evening after 17 families earlier quit their homes without resistance later departed, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Some 15 people not from the settlement briefly barricaded themselves inside one of the vacated homes, he added.

“Police and border guards removed them and six of their number were arrested,” Rosenfeld said.

A first stage of the court-mandated evacuation was completed peacefully on Tuesday, when 15 families packed up their belongings and left.

Israel’s High Court has ordered the demolition of 30 apartments in five buildings in Ulpana, a neighbourhood in the Beit El settlement located near the West Bank city of Ramallah.

The removal, which was due before July 1, was ordered because the homes were built on private Palestinian land. Three other families in mobile homes on the land were also ordered to move.

An agreement reached between the settlers and the government last week ensured a peaceful evacuation in return for Israel constructing 300 new homes in Beit El.

The evacuated homes will be removed and transported to new locations, rather than being destroyed.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s largely right-wing coalition, which leans heavily on the settler movement for support, has repeatedly sought to stall implementation of the High Court’s judgment.

And while the affected residents are moving before the July 1 deadline, the government has asked the High Court to grant a four-month delay on moving the buildings affected by the ruling. The court has yet to respond.

Israel considers settler outposts built without government approval in the West Bank to be illegal, but the international community views all settlements in occupied territory as unlawful, whether approved by the government or not.