The High Court of Justice ruled that residents of nine houses in Ofra should evacuate their houses by March 8, and the police have been preparing for it: members of the West Bank District Police Nationalist Crime Department started preventively detaining youths in preparation for the approaching evacuation. Police say more detentions are expected.
In February 2015, the High Court ruled that the buildings were built without construction permits, on privately-owned Palestinian land. The court originally ordered the homes to be demolished by February 8, 2017, but granted a one-month delay on January 25 to give security forces extra time to plan the eviction.
TPS sources in Ofra say IDF troops have seized control of the southern-most of the nine homes in preparation for evicting residents. The building is the only one that was not occupied and was expected to serve as a focal point for teenage protesters during the eviction process.
Security forces have started confiscating equipment at the site and preventively detaining youths who might cause problems.
Most families have already packed their belongings and all of them have an alternative place of residence.
Concomitantly, Ofra residents distributed a code of conduct ahead of the evacuation, spreading messages of calm. "We will not use metal bars and we will not barricade ourselves. Our protest will find expression in each home in accordance with the respective family's instructions and their legitimate choice to welcome into their home anyone they wish," stated the code of conduct.
At the same time, the Amona residents continue to reside in hostel-like structures in Ofra, after being evacuated from their settlement, but the establishment of an alternative place of residence has been delayed.
Amona evacuees have sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Education Minister Naftali Bennett in which they raise the concern that the land set aside for them in Ofra, which is meant to be temporary, will become permanent and a new community will not be founded as was promised.
Andrew Friedman/TPS contributed to this report.