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Thousands of Israelis march through Samaria to Evyatar outpost

More than two dozen lawmakers, including several ministers, joined in support of legalizing the community.

Israelis march to the Evyatar outpost in Samaria, April 10, 2023. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.
Israelis march to the Evyatar outpost in Samaria, April 10, 2023. Photo by Sraya Diamant/Flash90.

Thousands of Israelis protested in favor of Jewish rights in Samaria on Monday afternoon, with a main march beginning at the Tapuach Junction and ending at the Evyatar outpost.

At least seven Cabinet members, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, along with some two dozen other lawmakers were due to participate in the show of support.

“We do not surrender to terrorism, not in Evyatar and not in Tel Aviv,” said Ben-Gvir at the beginning of the march, in reference to Friday’s deadly terror attack in the coastal city.

“We are here in order to say: The people of Israel are strong. We are here and will stay here,” he added.

Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan on Sunday called on the government to “enable Evyatar’s residents to return to their homes and to legalize the town, as promised.”

The march was announced almost immediately after reports surfaced that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had decided to postpone officially recognizing Evyatar.

Netanyahu last month convened a meeting with political and defense brass on the fate of the outpost, although no decisions were reportedly reached. The meeting was held at the request of Ben-Gvir and Smotrich, who is also a minister at the Defense Ministry in charge of civilian affairs in Judea and Samaria.

An agreement was reached in June 2021 between Evyatar’s residents and the previous government for a yeshivah to be built at the site near Nablus in exchange for the residents leaving temporarily until it could be determined whether the land was privately owned.

Israeli security forces evacuated Evyatar on Feb. 27 after some 450 Jews entered the outpost the previous day in response to a terrorist attack that killed two Israeli brothers in Huwara, also near Nablus.

Evyatar was established in 2013, shortly after a terrorist shot and killed yeshiva student Evyatar Borovsky nearby. After being repeatedly evacuated, it was more formally reestablished in May 2021 in response to the killing of Yehuda Guetta, 19, who was shot at a bus stop by a Palestinian terrorist not far from the community.

What began as a tent encampment quickly gave way to more permanent structures. But in July 2021, 53 families vacated Evyatar under the deal struck with the government that allowed for the village to remain intact and under the permanent supervision of the Israel Defense Forces. In return, the government vowed to carry out a survey of the land in order to determine its status.

The government agreed that if the land is determined to belong to the state, it will immediately establish a yeshivah in Evyatar and subsequently allow a permanent civilian presence.

The Evyatar families have repeatedly accused the government of dragging its feet on conducting the land survey.

Monday’s march also comes on the backdrop of a series of terrorist attacks in Judea and Samaria, the Jordan Valley, Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

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