The settler protests took place in the Hebron Hills, Binyamin and Etzion areas of the West Bank, as well as in other areas. About 100 protesters also marched from Tapuah Junction to the new illegal Israeli outpost of Evyatar, the site of recent deadly clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces.
Protesters accused the Israeli government of turning a blind eye to rampant illegal Palestinian construction in the region and called for greater enforcement.
Israel occasionally demolishes Palestinian structures in Area C which it says lack the necessary permits. Palestinians say obtaining permits is extremely difficult. Such demolitions frequently generate international condemnation. Between 2016 and 2018, only 21 of the 1,485 Palestinian building permit applications in Area C were approved by the Defense Ministry, or 0.81 percent.
Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, said the marches aimed to raise awareness of the “reality and hypocrisy” of Israel’s uneven response to unapproved Jewish and Palestinian construction in the region.
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“This is political persecution against the people of Judea and Samaria,” he said, referring to the West Bank by its biblical name.
Palestinian protesters attend a protest against the Evyatar settlement outpost, south of Nablus, on June 4, 2021, in the West Bank. (JAAFAR ASHTIYEH / AFP)
The marches took place as the Israel Defense Forces outright rejected an appeal against the planned evacuation and demolition of Evyatar.
Residents of the settlers at the outpost had hoped to stop the planned evacuation, but the military rejected their request on Sunday. “The Evyatar outpost has been established illegally. Everything was done in total violation of the law and without any ownership or planning agreement, ”the IDF Central Command wrote.
Residents can now appeal to Israel’s highest court, the High Court of Justice, but their request is unlikely to be successful there.
The land to which Evyatar was reestablished in April historically belonged to the adjacent Palestinian villages of Beita, Kablan and Yitma, although residents have been barred from access for decades, for security reasons according to the IDF.
The outpost has grown rapidly over the past two months, reaching around 50 buildings for dozens of families. The outpost’s Facebook page boasts that Evyatar prevents contiguity between surrounding Palestinian villages while connecting the Israeli settlement of Tapuah with the Za’atara junction and the settlement of Migdalim.
The area around Evyatar has been the scene of repeated clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in recent weeks following the reestablishment of the outpost.
Palestinians near the adjacent Beita threw stones at troops and burned swathes of land, while Israeli soldiers responded with riot munitions and, in some cases, live ammunition. In recent weeks, four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire during the clashes.