Israel began evicting the residents of the Ulpana Hill neighbourhood in the Beit El settlement early this morning under a plan which will see 33 families evacuated to a temporary neighbourhood prepared inside a military base.
Under the agreement – reached between Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan and Rabbi Zalman Baruch Melamed, the rabbi of the Ulpana Hill neighborhood families – the residents will voluntarily leave their homes and move to a temporary compound in the Binyamin Regional Brigade base. Eventually, a nearby Border Police base, comprised of 4.5 acres of state land, will be evacuated and annexed to Beit El, and 300 apartments will be built there.
A number of families announced that they would refuse to leave the settlement. However, according to a report in Haaretz, they are being advised not to perform too brazen acts of civil disobedience, so as to avoid embarrassing Rabbi Melamed. Some residents wore t-shirts saying they have been forced from their homes, and “we will return” and asked for reporters to stop calling the eviction an evacuation by consent, so as to stress that they are being forced to leave their homes.
Notwithstanding this, movers hired by the Ministry of Defence are helping residents’ pack their belongings, and the houses are to be cleared out completely by Thursday, when they will be sealed.
According to the High Court’s ruling, the demolition order of the five structures built on the Ulpana Hill must be completed by 1 July 2012, meaning that the units must be destroyed and not merely sealed. To avoid this, the state is expected to appeal the High Court for a three-month stay, in order to allow time for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise to disassemble the houses to be met.
If the court does grant the state’s request, as it is expected to, the three months will be used to asses whether or not the plan to take apart the houses and put them back together again in a new location is feasible. If it is found to be, the state will ask for another stay to perform the feat.