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Israeli Defense Ministry to build new settlement for evacuees of Amona outpost

May 7, 2016 8:10 P.M. (Updated: May 8, 2016 8:43 P.M.)
Israeli forces talk with Jewish settlers from the Esh Kodesh outpost as they stage a sit-in to prevent Palestinians from working in their fields, Jan. 2, 2013. (AFP/Jaafar Ashtiyeh, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Israeli Defense Ministry, in coordination with leaders of Israel’s right-wing settlement movement, is set to establish a new settlement adjacent to the already-established settlement of Shiloh near the northern occupied West Bank city of Nablus for 40 families living in the Amona outpost, following an Israeli Supreme Court decision to demolish the outpost by the end of this year.

The new settlement is expected to be comprised of 139 housing units, with settler leader Zeev Hever planning to sell at least 90 of the new units on the open market, Haaretz reported.

The building of the new settlement is seen as direct resistance to the Israeli Supreme Court ruling in 2008 which ordered Amona's demolition after eight Palestinians from neighboring villages -- with the support of Israeli human rights organization Yesh Din -- successfully petitioned the court to remove the outpost on grounds that the construction was carried out on privately-held Palestinian land.

While the Israeli court decision found the Amona outpost to be illegal, all Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law.

In 2010, the Israeli Supreme Court issued an injunction on the Israeli government demanding an explanation as to why no steps had been taken to begin the demolition of the illegal outpost.

The Amona outpost also received demolition orders after rulings by the Israeli Supreme Court in 1997, 2003, and 2004, according to Haaretz, demolishing only nine structures in 1996.

A spokesperson for Israel's Ministry of Defense could not immediately be reached for comment.

Israeli authorities in April delivered notices to a Palestinian village in the Nablus district, alerting residents that 5,000 dunams (1,250 acres) of private land were slated for confiscation in what appeared to be the retroactive legalization of illegal outposts in the area.

Palestinian Authority official Ghassan Daghlas told Ma'an at the time that some 12 illegal settlements and 27 settlement outposts were located in the Nablus district, housing around 23,000 of the "most extremist settlers in the Palestinian territory."

In July, a settler from the illegal Adei Ad outpost -- among the several outposts retroactively legalized in last month's land confiscation -- entered the village of Duma and firebombed the house of the Dawabsha family. The attack killed Saad and Riham Dawabsha and their 18-month-old child.

Israel has recently stepped up land confiscation in the occupied West Bank, with settlement watchdog Peace Now warning in March that Israel had not confiscated such large swathes of land for the purpose of settlement expansion since the pre-Oslo period in the 1980s.

There are some 600,000 Israeli settlers residing in 196 illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, and a further 232 settler outposts considered illegal both by international law and Israeli domestic law, according to the Applied Research Institute - Jerusalem (ARIJ).

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