The eviction of Uplana,
the contested neighborhood in the West Bank settlement of Beit El, began Tuesday morning, bringing an end to a tumultuous legal battle
over its future.
Defense Ministry bulldozers, movers and contractors arrived at the settlement in the early morning hours to oversee the process.
The High Court-ordered,
will include the relocation of 33 of the neighborhood's families, 16 of which are to move Tuesday.
Some 100 Defense Ministry officials, divided into teams, paired up with the families in order to offer them the logistic assistance necessary. "We are doing everything in our power to ease this difficult process for the families," a defense source told Ynet.
Defense establishment officials said that the eviction and relocation process of all families is expected to be completed by Friday.
Morning prayer service in Ulpana (Photos: Gil Yohanan)
Beit El Rabbi Zalman Melamed led a morning prayer service ahead of the eviction: "God willing, there will be an even bigger neighborhood here. We will return to these homes and the land of Israel
will be rebuilt," he told the worshippers.
Ahead of the relocation, which will see five contested buildings moved several hundred yards away to Beit El's military base, the defense establishment had caravillas
shuttled to the settlement.
The caravillas in Beit El
The settlers have pledges a clam eviction, but at least four of the families said they would mount "peaceful resistance"
soldiers and Civil Administion officers who are slated to carry out the eviction.
According to the settlers, Rabbi Melamed – who was instrumental in brokering the settlers' consent to the move – said that peaceful resistance did not contradict the agreement struck with the government.
Security officials said that they were aware of plans to passively resist the eviction, and have made sure to clear all rocks and tires placed in the area as part of the early "resistance plan" and in an effort to prevent the situation from deteriorating.
Tents erected in the eviction path have also been removed.
IDF forces in the sector have been placed on high alert ahead of possible retaliation or "price tag" acts by settlers.
Many of the residents assisting the families moving were sporting black shirts reading "Ulpana – We'll be Back," and "Expelled."
"This is a personal moment of grief, I'm in mourning," an Ulpana resident told Ynet. Our hearts are broker, but we will hold our heads up high. No one will break our spirit."
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