Evacuate? Settlers continue to expand outposts
Rumors of upcoming evacuation haven't deterred outposts in Binyamin region in West Bank from expanding. Ynet tour of area reveals new permanent structures being built, and introduction of new trailers as civil administration, meant to be upholding policy of Israeli government in West Bank, looks on in silence. Peace Now: Government continues to allow settlers to do whatever they wish
For instance, the outpost of Givat Assaf, that was established in 2001. In January 2004, a demarcation order was issued to establish the boundaries of the settlement. The order was renewed in 2006.
Despite this, there are some 20 structures no the site, and a permanent structure was recently built. It should by noted that those sitting in the civil administration can't avoid seeing the new structure in the outpost since it is highly visible for the road on the way to and from work.
Givat Assaf. Building under the nose of the civil administration (Photo: Dudi Vaaknin)
In the outpost Nofei Prat, N.G. 468, the trailers were erected in 2003, and were occupied in 2004. It should be noted that this outpost, like other outposts, appears in the outpost report of Attorney Talia Sasson. Nofei Prat is also expanding at an accelerated pace. Recently, three trailers were added to the outpost (which now totals 8 trailers), and a solitary permanent building was completed.
In the Neve Erez outpost, named in memory of Brigadier-General Erez Gerstein, a permanent structure was recently erected. The outpost was established in May 1999, was dismantled under the framework of an agreement made in Prime Minister Barak's period, and was transferred to a different site. However, in February 2001, the residents returned to the original site.
In Neve Erez, south of Maaleh Mikhmash, there are 15 structures including trailers, convenience stores, tin shacks, and the permanent structure recently put up. Eight families live in the outpost.
Nofei Prat. More and more trailers (Photo: Dudi Vaaknin)
New trailers and recently finished permanent structures can also be found in Plagei Mayim, an extension of the Ali settlement in Gush Telmonim. In the outpost Zayit Raanan, which is also in Gush Telmonim, two permanent structures are being finished, and three new trailers have been introduced.
It should be noted that all of the outposts we visited during daylight hours, were completely empty of people. However, even from this small sampling of five outposts near Ramallah, it is clearly seen that the momentum of building hasn't stopped despite threats of evacuation coming from the government. On the contrary. Permanent structures are very quickly taking their places in the outposts.
In response to Ynet's findings, Peace Now representative Dror Atkas said: "The findings of the tour prove that the Israeli government continues to shirk all its political and legal commitments such that it continues to allow settlers to do whatever they wish in terms of building in the outposts in broad daylight."
Even Mayor of the Benjamin Regional Council, Pinhas Wallerstein, who has jurisdiction over the outposts," clarified: "Within the discussion with the Defense Ministry and our willingness to show good will, we will be prepared to freeze all development in the said outposts, which are the subject of the discussion with the Defense Ministry - during negotiations."
(Wallerstein was referring to the outposts that were erected after March 2001 –E.W.)
The civil administration said in response to the permanent structure built in Givat Assaf: "This is an old structure that has existed in the outpost for a long time and is handled by the oversight authorities in accordance. The building was recently expanded, hence its new appearance."