After months of legal battles, Israeli police forces clashed with Jewish residents as two disputed structures in the Dreinoff neighborhood of the Beit El community in Samaria were evacuated before dawn on Tuesday.
The clashes erupted as hundreds of residents barricaded themselves at the site—two buildings slated for demolition under an interim Israeli High Court of Justice order—to prevent any action. The residents had set up barbed wire and prepared piles of tires to burn in a planned protest against the demolition order, which they believe they can still overturn. About 50 protesters were detained during the evacuation, which turned violent.
The so-called “Dreinoff houses” were built on private Palestinian land that was appropriated under a security injunction. About eight months ago, the High Court of Justice ruled that the construction was conducted without the proper permits and that it was illegal, issuing a demolition order for July. On Tuesday, the Beit El Council filed an appeal to overturn the demolition order.
A security source told Israel’s Channel 2 news that “since the construction of 24 housing units at the site has been approved by the [Israeli government’s] Civil Administration, and since the residents have filed an appeal with the High Court of Justice to prevent the demolition, the demolition will be carried out only if the High Court orders it. There is still a legal process underway.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that his government opposes the demolition of the Beit El homes and is taking legal action to prevent it. Netanyahu stressed that “we are working to support the settlement enterprise, and we will do so in compliance with the law.”