Photo Credit: Oz Etzion
Oz Etzion eviction, June 23, 2021

Border Police forces and the Civil Administration on Wednesday morning began the evacuation of several buildings inhabited by families and a group of boys in Givat Oz Zion in Binyamin. Hundreds of policemen and heavy equipment are operating at the site, encircling the homes in preparation for the evacuation. Dozens of residents blocked one of the tractors carrying out the evacuation.

Oz Zion is an outpost located a few hundred meters south of Givat Assaf, another outpost, and both are in the vicinity of Beit El in Samaria. Oz Zion was established in 2012 by the Nahala movement and operated by the Ari Yashag organization. The outpost is located at a point from which all the main traffic arteries of the Binyamin area are visible. It has been evacuated dozens of times by the Netanyahu government and was usually rebuilt on the same day. Now it has the honor of being evacuated by a prime minister who began his political career as head of Yesha Council which represents the settler community.

Naftali Bennett at his old job as Director General of Yesha Council, Sep 15, 2011. / Moshe Shai/Flash90

Yehuda Lieber, a resident of Oz Zion, issued a statement saying: “While there are hundreds of thousands of illegal [Arab] homes in Area C, the Civil Administration is busy with the homes of the Jews, which have been built on privately owned land and with the approval of the local council, but do not comply with Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories policy.”

Chairman of the Religious Zionism party MK Bezalel Smotrich responded to the destruction of Oz Zion, saying: “Unfortunately, as we feared in the early days of this government, the destruction of the settlements begins. The Jewish ones, of course. Arab construction is raging in the Negev, the Galilee, and Judea and Samaria, and Bennett and Shaked are choosing to destroy Jewish property.

But do not worry, we will continue with God’s help to build and hold on to our land. We will continue the path and values they have chosen to abandon.”

The evacuation of the relatively small Oz Zion is a precursor to the next challenge coming up next week, as the IDF has announced its plans to demolish the much bigger outpost of Evyatar, where more than 40 families have settled in permanent homes. Will Bennett be able to hold back what is certain to become a much bigger assault on the values that have brought him to his current post?

Time will tell – next week.


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