Israeli settlers and hundreds of pro-settlement supporters were evicted Tuesday by Israeli police from a settlement in the West Bank, even though many Israeli settlements still remain on Palestinian territory with no challenge from the state.
Police removed settlers and supporters, many of whom were held up in nine illegally built houses on Palestinian private land in the settlement of Ofra, home to around 3,000 people. Many protesters attempted to resist eviction by linking arms and climbing the roofs of the houses, while others were calmly escorted out by Israeli police.
Israel's supreme court had previously ordered the destruction of the nine buildings after it was ruled that the structures were illegally built on lands where Palestine has proven ownership.
Earlier in February, Israel controversially legalized around 4,000 settler homes built on privately-owned Palestinian land, which has been met with widespread international condemnation. However, because of standing court orders, the new law did not apply to the nine houses in Ofra or to the settlement of Amona which was evacuated on Feb. 2.
Apart from the U.S. – Israel’s staunch ally – most countries consider all Israeli settlements on Palestinian land illegal. Human rights groups have called for an end to the settlements, a view backed up by last year’s UN Security Council resolution vote.
Far-right factions in Israel, however, see the West Bank as part of the historic Jewish land of Israel, rather than belonging to the Palestinians who have lived there for centuries. More than half a million Israeli’s live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, which are also home to more than 2.6 million Palestinians. In all of historic Palestine, around 6 million Palestinians live under harsh Israeli control.