Dozens of rightist activists who camped out at the illegal West Bank outpost of Oz Zion on Friday night left the area of their own accord on Saturday evening.
The activists grabbed their belongings after the sun had set and continued on to the nearby outpost of Givat Asaf.
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By nightfall only a handful of settlers remained in the area. The IDF was busy removing them from the outpost well after midnight. No violence was immediately reported.
Only a day earlier the settlers clashed with the security forces that tried to remove them from the makeshift town. Five border police officers were lightly hurt before the forces decided to retreat. Dozens of IDF soldiers, cops and Border Guard officers took part in the failed evacuation.
Activists on way out of Oz Zion (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu on Saturday criticized the defense officials' decision to evacuate the site on Shabbat.
"It wasn't wise to expel hundreds of people before Shabbat," he told Ynet. "Where would they go? Where would they eat? Where would they sleep and put their belongings?"
On Friday, defense officials said that the settlers attacked the soldiers and officers with rocks. For their part, the activists said the forces exerted violence against them. The settlers further stated that soldiers entered Givat Asaf and fired tear gas and shock grenades.
The officials confirmed that crowd dispersal means were likely to have been used by the forces.
At least one settler was arrested during the incident. The Oz Zion outpost has been evacuated several times in the past year, but the settlers returned shortly afterwards.
Bennett fires back
Hatnua Chairwoman Tzipi Livni leveled harsh criticism at Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett Saturday, saying his political rhetoric led to the clash.
Security forces at outpost (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
"Bennett and the IDF soldiers and creating a situation where soldiers may refuse orders," she said.
Speaking at a gathering in Haifa, she added that "These radical elements led people there on Friday evening, knowing that our children – IDF soldiers – would have to remove them."
Bennett fired back on Saturday evening, dismissing the accusation that he was in any way involved in organizing the settlers' protest.
"They put words in my mouth on Saturday, and I have to discredit them," he said. He nevertheless stressed that the security forces shouldn't evacuate illegal outposts on Saturdays.
Sources at Habayit Hayehudi said that Bennett was not closely associated with Rabbi Dov Lior, who led the young settlers' protest.
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