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Amona evacuation nears completion

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Residents and supporters have resisted Israeli security forces and this morning remain in two structures awaiting eviction in the West Bank outpost of Amona.

Dozens of people remain in the Amona synagogue and another structure, resisting the evacuation which started early yesterday. Israel Police said there is no time limit on completing the evacuation and that those barricaded in the synagogue will be removed in a manner which “on the one hand prevent the need for use of force, and on the other hand maintain the sanctity of the place”.

Israel Border Police moved in yesterday with the complex task of evacuating the outpost, wearing blue sweatshirts and baseball caps instead of their usual uniform or riot equipment. Hundreds of mainly teenagers had gathered in Amona before the operation to resist the evacuation.

Stones, bottles and bleach were thrown at officers, while rubbish bins were burned. Twenty four officers were lightly injured as they removed people from the outpost.

Some 18 civilians were also injured and 13 people were arrested for disturbing the peace and obstructing police work, while some 400 protesters were led from the site without charges.

The Defence Ministry plans today to remove the belongings of those who have left their homes and to begin removing the structures themselves.

The High Court ruled that the evacuation must take place, as the outpost was built illegally on private Palestinian land. In December, the court granted a “last, final extension” to evacuate Amona’s residents by 8 February.

However, it remains unclear where the Amona residents will now go. The High Court accepted a petition yesterday that the plot assigned by the government to house many of the residents is, like Amona, private Palestinian land.

In light of the decision, Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett yesterday called for “the construction of a settlement for the residents of Amona”.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later announced that a special panel would be created to oversee the establishment of a new West Bank settlement for this purpose.