At least 40 people were arrested, mostly teenagers and young men, Sunday morning at West Tapuach, a caravan outpost located some two kilometers away from the town of Kfar Tapuach, south of Nablus, as security forces arrived at the outpost to implement a court order to demolish 10 mobile homes at the site. In addition, more than a dozen people were detained at police checkpoints set up along access roads leading to the area in order to limit clashes between protesters and security forces.
The outpost was founded in early 2001 following the murder of Binyamin Ze’ev and Tali Kahane, residents of Kfar Tapuach and the son and daughter-in-law of Rabbi Meir Kahane, the founder of the Kach Party that was banned from running in Knesset elections during the 1980s because the court ruled that the party platform of transferring Arabs out of Israel was racist, on December 31, 2000. But the site was never approved by the Civil Administration planning committee, which is charged with signing off on building projects in Judea and Samaria, although residents say that successive governments granted de facto recognition to the neighborhood by providing mobile homes and basic infrastructure at the site, including electricity and water.
But the lack of official recognition created an opening in 2016 for legal action against the residents, and spokespeople for the town said that whereas families have been living at the site for the past 18 years, the left-wing Yesh Din NGO has partnered with Arab residents of nearby villages to remove the Israelis.
“There have been families living here for the past 18 years, but two years ago Yesh Din found Arabs in a nearby village (Yusuf) who made a claim to the land. In the court proceedings it was determined that most of the homes there are not located on state land and must be removed,” said David Ha’Ivri, a spokesman for the community.
Ha’Ivri added that the court also found that most of the land on the hill in question, approximately 800 dunams (200 acres), is state land and that last year’s Judea and Samaria Settlement Legalization Law would eventually allow for “hundreds or thousands of housing units there.”
The neighborhood was the second in Judea and Samaria to be demolished in a week, and the fourth in less than 18 months. Last week, residents of Netiv Ha’Avot, an unauthorized section of Elazar, in Gush Etzion, were evicted and their homes destroyed after the court ruled that parts of their homes inched onto privately-owned Palestinian land. Similar scenes took place in February, 2017, when some 40 families were removed from a hilltop adjacent to Ofra, and another nine homes were demolished inside that town.
Rabbi Mendy Mirocznik, the executive vice chairman of the Rabbinical Alliance of America – Igud HaRabbonim (an organization based in the US with a membership of 950 Orthodox rabbis) said in a statement e-mailed to the media, “With great sadness and disappointment, we feel the pain of these families who are true defenders of Israel. These families have sacrificed a great deal by settling and developing these communities for the good of Israel.”
He added, “What hurts the most is that these courageous families have relied on promises that were not fulfilled by the Israeli government. These families have received no appreciation or respect for their efforts in defense of Israel. It should be noted that these families have answered the call of the Israeli government, time and time again. Words cannot express our outrage over the way these families have been treated. Let it be known, that the RAA/Igud HaRabbonim stands in complete support of these families in West Tapuach.” (TPS)