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Israel evacuates settler outpost following court battle

Tel Aviv (dpa) – Israeli police said they are evacuating settlement homes in the southern West Bank on Tuesday after Israel’s High Court deemed the homes illegally built on private Palestinian land.

The evacuation and demolition of the 15 settlement homes in Netiv Ha’avot comes after a more than decade-long legal battle in which seven Palestinians, aided by an anti-settlement NGO, have sought the return of the lands.

In September 2016, Israel’s High Court sided with the Palestinians and ordered 17 buildings evacuated, two of which were already evacuated.

On Tuesday, hundreds gathered at the settlement to protest the evacuation as police called on the settlement families to “not allow any violence against police officers and innocents.”

Netiv Ha’avot is a settlement outpost, meaning it was built without government approval. Most settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank are established with government support and largely built on lands Israel does not consider to be owned by Palestinians.

Settlement supporters are calling for 350 new homes to be built in the area in response to the demotion.

“We hope these evictions will send a clear message that crime does not pay, and that anyone who builds on land without authorization or even purchasing it first will ultimately be compelled to leave,” Peace Now, the anti-settlement NGO which petitioned the High Court alongside the Palestinian landowners, said Monday.

“We call upon the relevant security bodies to allow the rightful Palestinian landowners, who have waited 17 years, to return to their land following the evictions,” the NGO said.

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