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Israel evacuates illegal West Bank outpost

August 14, 2023 at 4:05 pm

Prefabricated structures, tents, caravans and other temporary shelters of illegal Jewish settlers are seen in Burka village of Ramallah, West Bank on August 09, 2023 [Issam Rimawi – Anadolu Agency]

Israeli occupation forces this morning evacuated an illegal settler outpost within the Aira Shahar outpost, located east of Ramallah.

Following orders from the Israeli Higher Planning Council in the Civil Administration, Israeli forces removed five illegal structures, after which extreme right-wing settlers began protesting by burning tyres and by placing spikes on the road leading to the outpost.

According to Israeli media, it was the first evacuation order conducted against the outpost since the current far-right government was sworn in at the end of last year.

The order to dismantle the illegal outpost received authorisation from Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich despite his typically pro-settlement position and his backing of West Bank annexation.

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A source affiliated with Smotrich informed the Times of Israel that the grounds where Aira Shahar was established were unequivocally privately owned Palestinian land. Consequently, any attempts to legitimise the outpost would have been impossible.

“To our great regret, we were not able to reach a solution to transfer the buildings to nearby state land in order to legalise them as we have done in other places, for example in Homesh,” the source said.

“On our watch, we are building and legalising settlements at an unprecedented scale, and doing it wisely, with authorisation, and with permission,” the source added.

Figures provided last week by Israeli NGO, Peace Now, revealed that Israel’s far-right government has set an all-time record this year for approvals of illegal settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and for the legitimisation of illegal outposts.

The group stated that within the initial seven months of this year, a greater number of outposts have been granted legal status than in the entirety of previous years.

It comes after the occupation authorities announced their intention to accelerate the approval process for settlement construction in June, in addition to giving Smotrich even more authority to expand illegal settlements.

Estimates indicate that about 700,000 settlers are living in 164 illegal settlements and 116 illegal outposts in the occupied West Bank. The United Nations considers all Israeli settlement activities illegal.

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