An illegal Israeli settler outpost, erected on top of land belonging to the Palestinians of Beita village in the West Bank, has resulted in the murder of 7 Palestinians and is being defended at all costs by Israeli soldiers who are legally obligated to destroy it.
The new settler outpost constructed in the village of Beita, named ‘Evyatar’ by the settlers, is considered illegal even under Israeli law and has been ordered to be raised. Yet extremist settlers are refusing to budge from the site, protesting last week in the hundreds against any Israeli government attempt to remove them, met with a deafening silence from the new Bennet-Lapid government. It seems as of now that despite everything being in place for the dismantlement of the site, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennet is hesitant to even announce a follow through.
In the month of April the settler outpost was re-erected, but this is not the first time settlers have attempted to take the area over, with many attempts having been made since 2013. The area on which the settler outpost now stands, adjacent to three Palestinian villages, most importantly Beita, has been largely declared a “closed military zone” by the Israeli occupation army. If Palestinians are found to have had access to their own land there, they can be shot for entering the area or potentially arrested. The Israeli military’s civil administration unit has ruled in this case that 50 settler structures have been built on privately owned Palestinian land, therefore ordering an evacuation of settlers and arguing that their presence destabilizes the security situation.
Israeli occupation forces have also partaken in the construction of the illegal settler outpost. Soldiers were photographed, in early June, helping to construct settler structures, to which there was an announcement that the case would be investigated by the Israeli military and possible disciplinary action would be taken. However, there has yet to be any known meaningful action taken against the soldiers.
According to the United Nations latest OCHA report, which only covered up to the first two weeks in June, “Since 3 May, Israeli forces have killed five Palestinians, including two children, and injured at least 920 others during protests against the establishment of the settlement on Beita land,” with two others having been killed since this time. According to the UN-OCHA at least 7 Palestinians were also injured by what are believed to have been attacks from Israeli settlers, in Beita.
In response to the Israeli military and settler provocations in the area, in addition to plans approved by the Israeli government to build a new settler road through land belonging to surrounding Palestinian villages, demonstrations have been daily. The introduction of night time confusion activities, a tactic taken from Gaza’s protest movements which aims to cause a panic amongst occupation forces, has also come into play in Beita. The physical implementation of this tactic involves using laser pointers, burning tires, fireworks, and torches in all different locations as to cause confusion to soldiers and intimidate settlers. It is a non-violent tactic, which is met with routine Israeli violence in response.
There have also been calls by local popular committees for as many as 100,000 Palestinians to show up and demonstrate against the settler outpost, constructed on Mount Sabih. With such a development and the growing demonstrations, daily, occurring at the site it seems as if the issue will cause more chaos for Israel than it is worth.
Especially with the settler outpost declared as illegal, Israel’s current government’s hesitancy to evacuate the illegal settler extremists shows that, when it comes to dealing with settlers, the law isn’t a priority. When such an order is given to a Palestinian village, the Israeli military shows up to violently evict Palestinians, in violation of international law, with no consideration as to where they will go after that. But when Jewish settlers are not only given an order to leave the area, which they have entered illegally (according to both Israeli and International Law), their feelings are taken into consideration, despite the burden they are placing on the Israeli military by being there.
In Beita we see yet another case of Israeli soldiers going against their own laws, behaving in an extremist fashion, aiding settlers against their own military’s wishes, and Israel’s government does not seem to care. If the Israeli Premier does not act to stop this settler outpost and its fanatical settlers, it will represent a situation where not only do Israeli settlers assume great power over the Israeli government itself, but they are literally above even Israel’s laws.