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Clashes erupt as Israel evacuates Amona

Twenty police officers were lightly injured and 13 people were arrested during the unrest

February 1, 2017 at 5:47 pm

Clashes erupted between Israeli settlers and Israeli forces at the illegal Amona outpost in the central occupied West Bank district of Ramallah, as Israeli police began evacuating the settlement’s residents this morning in line with an order from the Israeli Supreme Court.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Al-Samri said in a statement at 14:45 that Israeli police had detained several “suspects” and taken them for interrogation following “rioters attacking and throwing bottles and irritating materials” at Israeli police.

Al-Samri added that 20 police officers were lightly injured and 13 people had been arrested for “disturbances”, while 200 people were “removed from the area”. Twelve of the police officers were still being treated in the Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem.

She stated that 28 houses had been evacuated as of 18:30 (14:30GMT).

Israeli police officers deployed in Amona were “continuing their work to prevent any riots of settlers taking advantage of the situation and help the evacuation of settlers’ families who are leaving the outpost willingly.”

She added that necessary procedures would be conducted if any riots were to occur, noting that an Israeli policeman was assaulted around noon and other policemen suffered from irritation in their eyes “after rioters threw materials causing irritation at Israeli police.”

Israeli police were ready to continue the evacuation at night, she added.

Haaretz reported around 11:00 that hundreds of Israeli youth stormed the area to protest against the evacuation, throwing stones at Israeli police forces as the authorities made a push forward into the outpost.

Al-Samri said in a statement around 11:30 that Israeli police forces had been deployed at the illegal outpost since early Wednesday morning “in preparation for the direct evacuation”.

According to Al-Samri, the police had communicated with resident settlers and their leadership “in order to push efforts of voluntary evacuation in accordance with what they had pledged in front of the Supreme Court of Justice.”

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Arab Joint List head Ayman Odeh, a member of the Knesset and a Palestinian citizen of Israel, criticised the police’s double standard regarding the use of force in Amona and in Bedouin villages in the Negev.

“Amona is being evacuated after being built on Palestinian lands that were stolen 20 years ago, while Umm Al-Hiran residents were being evacuated from their own lands, without stealing anyone else’s lands,” Odeh said in a post on Facebook, referring to the deadly evacuation of a Bedouin village in January, during which the MK himself was injured.

“Unarmed Israeli police is evacuating Amona in broad daylight, where they are being very cautious in dealing with Israeli settlers, while Israeli police carried out demolitions in Umm Al-Hiran completely armed and equipped with military supplies,” Odeh added.

The Israeli army yesterday ordered the evacuation of the Amona settlers within 48 hours, saying that the army would bar entry to Amona and not allow anyone to stay on the premises 48 hours after midnight on Monday.

The order required that the settlers remove their property from the illegal outpost by midnight Wednesday, and gave them the chance to petition within 48 hours.