(JTA) – Violence erupted in a West Bank Jewish settlement ordered to be demolished after police forcibly removed 200 demonstrators.
On Tuesday morning, the protesters were taken from two buildings that the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled must be razed by Thursday; they barricaded themselves in the buildings to prevent their demolition. The buildings, erected without permits and not yet completed, are on private Palestinian land seized by the Israel Defense Forces in the 1970s, the court ruled.
Some protesters threw rocks at Border Police officers.
Israel’s governing coalition, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, filed an appeal with the court on Tuesday to stop the demolition. Before the violence erupted, several members of the coalition, including Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett, joined the demonstrators and praised their efforts.
“The answer to terror is to build settlements and not to be cowards,” Bennett said in a speech to the demonstrators.
Bennett and other right-wing legislators criticized Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon for sending in police to remove the demonstrators from the building. Ya’alon defended his decision on Tuesday afternoon.
“I acted and I am acting for the settlement in [the West Bank], including Beit El,” the defense chief said in a statement, according to i24news. “The sane and law abiding majority there knows this. But whoever thinks I will break the law is mistaken. I will not co-operate with anarchy. I expect government ministers to support the rule of law.”
In anti-police chants, protesters said the police were “destroying homes in the land of Israel” and that “Jew don’t expel Jews,” the Times of Israel reported.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog of Zionist Union called on Netanyahu to fire the ministers who were supporting demonstrators in Beit El.
Also overnight Tuesday, more than 200 people returned to the northern West Bank village of Sa-Nur to mark the 10th anniversary of its evacuation during the Gaza disengagement. Many of those on hand were families that were evicted from the settlement.
The demonstrators took over an old British fort located in the village and announced that they were planning to remain.
The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday warned that it will forcibly remove the demonstrators if they do not leave voluntarily.
Among those occupying the fort are Jewish Home Knesset members Aryeh Eldad and Bezalel Smotrich.
“Ten years after the disengagement, it’s about time to fix things. And that begins here, in northern Samaria,” Smotrich said in a statement. “Families have begun settling into the rooms of the fort with the intention of staying for some time. We don’t intend to move from here.”