Security forces on Friday morning began evicting dozens of Israeli settlers who broke into Palestinian homes less than 24 hours earlier near the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron, claiming that they purchased the properties in secret several days earlier.
Politicians on the right quickly condemned the move. "I call on the defense minister to immediately halt the evacuation of settlers from the houses in Hebron that were purchased in accordance with the law," said Immigration and Absorption Minister Ze'ev Elkin (Likud). "This is the time to fight terror and support strengthening the settlement enterprise, not to fight the settlers. Those who speak in the name of law and order are welcome to first of all deal with Palestinian Authority employees and radical leftist activists who execute Palestinians who dared to sell land or homes to Jews."
MK Bezalel Smotrich (Bayit Yehudi) wrote on Twitter that he had told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he would not vote with the ruling coalition until the settlers are allowed to return to the houses. Smotrich made a similar threat in the past, but ultimately did vote with the coalition. MKs Oren Hazan (Likud) and Ayoob Kara (Likud) declared that they would also refrain from being present at votes.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon (Likud) responded to the criticism in a press statement, saying that "Israel has rule of law, and I have no intention of compromising when the law is violated. In the case of the houses in Hebron, the law was flagrantly violated. In order to enter the home, there are several legal actions that must be taken, none of which were taken. Thus, the intruders were evicted." He called on ministers, MKs, and elected officials to discourage people from taking the law into their own hands.
On Thursday, clashes between Palestinians and the settlers broke out, with the Palestinians throwing stones at settlers. IDF troops were using crowd dispersal measures and closed all entrances to the houses in an effort to calm the rioting.