New solution reached for Amona as residents prepare to fight evacuation
In late night meeting, agreement reached that would see 24 families remain on the mountain in a nearby plot; while outpost leadership sees it as best deal under circumstances, they warn it will still be a hard sell to the settlers; meanwhile, activists prepare 'a lot of surprises' to the evacuating forces.
A new agreement was reached early Sunday between the Israeli government and the residents of Amona that would see 24 families remain on the mountain in a nearby plot—twice as many as the previous plan that was rejected by the outpost residents.
This will require the state to ask the High Court of Justice for a one-month extension to the evacuation deadline, set for December 25, to allow for time to build the new structures.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's chief of staff Yoav Horowitz met with Amona residents and Samaria Regional Council Yossi Dagan at the home of a close associate of Dagan's on Saturday night. After reaching an agreement, the sides went to Jerusalem to meet with Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett at the Prime Minister's Office.
Amona representatives who attended the meeting with Netanyahu said the prime minister showed willingness to resolve the crisis and was trying to help as much as possible, but noted that the current plan will also be a hard sell to the rest of the residents.
"We understand that this really is the best we could get, but it would be hard to convince the residents. It's not going to be simple at all," said one of the Amona residents who attended the meeting.
Over a thousand people flooded the outpost over the weekend and were warmly received by Amona's residents. Many of the activists were pressuring the residents not to accept the new agreement.
Meanwhile, rumors spread among the residents that the evacuation was drawing near and the young activists were preparing to fight against it.
The Amona residents' leader, Avichai Buaron, spoke to the young activists who arrived at the outpost—many of them teenagers. Buaron explained to them that the latest plan is better than what has been offered before and is the best that can be achieved in the current conditions.
"He stressed that we must not raise our hands against police officers and soldiers, but he said we definitely have to resist. There are a lot of groups of teens here. We prepared a lot of surprises to the forces," said Eitan, one of the teens who spent the Shabbat in Amona.
"There are going to be formidable fortifications with a lot of obstacles. This isn't Gush Katif," Eitan added. "We're here to burn into the collective memory harsh images of the expulsion of Jews. We won't let this pass quietly."
The activists prepared fortifications on the roof of the outpost's water tower and around the different trailers that make up Amona. They also closed-off the area, including the outpost's access road, with barbed wire, tires and spikes. A massive water barrel was placed at the entry-point to the outpost, ready to block it. Finally, lookouts have been stationed on the roofs of the houses to alert the activists on the arrival of the forces.
Amona's rabbi, Yair Frank, also spoke to the teenagers. "Our goal is to delay the evacuation as much as possible: For it to not be a matter of hours, but days, and for it to remain in the collective memory. However, we must not turn to violence because this will weaken us and our struggle."
Yesh Din, a legal NGO that represents the Palestinian land owners, said in response to the new plan that "The different land theft plans—which are based in taking over private Palestinian lands as a 'solution' for criminals the High Court has ordered to evacuate from privately-owned Palestinian lands that they took over—contradict the law, morality and common sense. We are confident the court will not allow this miscarriage of justice, exactly as it ordered an end this injustice that has lasted for over 20 years—the outpost of Amona."
The evacuation is expected in the coming days and security forces are prepared to execute it. IDF reinforcement units have been deployed to the area, but they will not take part in the actual evacuation—merely provide security.
Soldiers serving in the Judea and Samaria Division were ordered by their commanders not to talk about the evacuation so as to not reveal information to the resisting activists.
Meanwhile, ten Givati Brigade soldiers who were deployed to the area to help secure the evacuation have left their base in protest, but returned on Saturday night.
They were convinced to return by their commanders after receiving assurances that they will not take part in the actual evacuation—which will be done by police and Border Police.
While the IDF has yet to decide whether to court martial the soldiers, officials in the military stressed the soldiers will not be tried for refusing an order.