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Report: Israeli army orders evacuation of 'extremist' settler outpost

June 19, 2017 8:27 P.M. (Updated: June 19, 2017 9:54 P.M.)
Israeli settlers in the illegal outpost of Esh Kodesh in the northern occupied West Bank on March 5, 2008. (File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- Israeli authorities have evacuated the illegal Baladim settler outpost, known for its aggressiveness against both Palestinians and Israeli forces, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported on Monday.

According to the publication, the Israeli army Central Command signed an order earlier this month to evacuate dozens of settlers living in the outpost, located near the illegal settlement of Kokhav Hashahar in the Ramallah district of the occupied West Bank.

Haaretz quoted sources from the illegal Yitzhar settlement in the Nablus district, who said that the army had informed them that the settlers evacuated from Baladim were likely to relocate to Yitzhar.

An Israeli army spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter to confirm the timeline of events and the reason behind the decision to evacuate the outpost.

According to Israeli news outlet Ynet, the Baladim outpost has been evacuated dozens of times over the years, to no avail.

Baladim settlers have been accused of throwing stones at Israeli forces and attacking Palestinians living in the area. Settlers from Yitzhar, where the Baladim settlers are expected to relocate, have also carried out attacks against Palestinians, as well as recently targeted an Israeli ambulance.

Many Palestinian activists and rights groups have accused Israel of fostering a “culture of impunity” for Israeli settlers and soldiers committing violent acts against Palestinians.

Israeli authorities served indictments in only 8.2 percent of cases of Israeli settlers committing anti-Palestinian crimes in the occupied West Bank in the past three years, according to Israeli NGO Yesh Din.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), there were a total of 107 reported settler attacks against Palestinians and their properties in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 2016, with 64 attacks being reported since the start of 2017.

An estimated 500,000 to 600,000 Israeli settlers reside in 196 illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem and in a further 232 settler outposts considered illegal under both international law and Israeli domestic law.

The controversial Regularization law which passed in February could however grant official Israeli governmental recognition to more than a dozen illegal settlement outposts in the West Bank established on private Palestinian lands.
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