Israeli forces on Monday morning evacuated the Givat Aira Shahar outpost in the Binyamin Regional Council east of Ramallah.
Residents of the unauthorized hilltop community and from surrounding communities protested the move, which was the first evacuation order carried out against the outpost since the current government was sworn in at the end of last year.
Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich ordered Monday’s action, which targeted five out of 20 structures erected on private Palestinian land or on state land without permits.
Activists burned tires and placed anti-vehicle caltrops on the approach to the outpost, and stoned the forces carrying out the evacuation. Some activists were recorded climbing atop a military excavator. One activist was arrested for disorderly conduct.
Monday’s action was carried out by the Border Police and the Civil Administration, the Defense Ministry body, overseen by Smotrich, that is responsible for approving construction and handling other bureaucratic matters in Area C of Judea and Samaria.
“The right-wing government continues the tradition of [National Unity Party head Benny] Gantz and [Yesh Atid Party head Yair] Lapid, to damage the Jewish settlement and destroy houses,” the residents of Givat Aira Shahar said in a statement, adding that it was “shocking that Smotrich chooses to fight the settlement.”
Ariel Danino, who was evacuated from the outpost along with his family, told 103FM: “There are tens of thousands of illegal houses in the area, they just belong to Arabs so they are not destroyed. We at least expected that just as they are not destroyed, [our homes] will not be destroyed here as well.
“I expected Smotrich to act differently, I am very disappointed by his behavior and that of others in the government.”
Sources close to Smotrich responded to criticism of the move, with Kan News quoting them as saying that “these are new buildings built on private Arab land, they cannot be regulated and in relation to them there is a demand from the security system and the judiciary for enforcement.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to bring about a consensual solution of transferring them to nearby state lands … as we have acted and we are acting in other places, such as for example in Homesh. On our watch we build and regulate settlements on an unprecedented scale, and do so with pride, authority and authorization.”