Israeli authorities have taken control of illegal homes being built in the occupied West Bank, prompting clashes between Jewish settlers and Israeli border police.
Tuesday’s protest was staged against the demolition of the so-called Dreinoff buildings, which were built on private Palestinian land that was seized by the Israeli army in the 1970s.
The demolition of the homes was ordered last month by the Israeli High Court, stating that the houses must be removed before July 30.
Using riot gear, the Israeli forces took control over the two buildings under construction early on Tuesday, heralding a showdown with dozens of young Jews who barricaded themselves in one of the structures in the West Bank settlement of Beit El near Ramallah.
“A border police unit on Tuesday took control of the Dreinoff buildings ahead of their demolition as ordered by the High Court with the aim of avoiding violence during the operation,” an Israeli military statement said.
However, following the clash of the protesters with the police, dozens of settlers were forcefully evacuated, and some of them were arrested.
“The situation, the feeling here is very very bad, and we hope that our representatives will really do something quickly,” said Pesach Sabich, a settler from Beit El.
The evacuation took place after an Israeli human rights organisation petitioned the High Court on July 26 together with Palestinian land owners to cancel the planning guidelines and block any construction on the Dreinoff Compound.
On the other hand, there has been further legal manoeuvring by the Israeli defence ministry to circumvent the orders of the High Court and prevent the demolition.
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli prime minister, said on Tuesday his government opposes the decision of the High Court to demolish the buildings, according to a statement from his office.
Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law. The Israeli government disputes that position.
The ongoing building on the lands of the occupied West Bank is perceived as additional complications to peace negotiations and further impediments in forming an independent Palestinian state.