Hundreds of settler activists protest West Bank homes demolition

Hundreds of right-wing activists gathered in the West Bank settlement of Ofra, as Israeli police begin the evacuation of nine settler homes slated for demolition on Tuesday.

The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the homes were illegally built on private Palestinian land and ordered them evicted by March 5. The court rejected last minute petitions to halt the demolition or have the buildings sealed off.

Dozens of youths barricaded themselves in some of the houses, climbing on the roofs, shouting slogans at the police officers, and calling them “Nazis.” A 17-year-old was arrested after he attacked the police. Three officers were slightly injured, Haaretz reported.

Police had to carry some of the residents out of their houses as they refused to leave on their own. Some of the settlers even announced hunger strikes in protest of the evacuation.

“We feel that this is not right at all, what’s being done here: the destruction of these homes in the center of a Jewish town, in the center of a populated town that was established legally 42 years ago,” said Eliana Passentin, a spokeswoman for the local settler regional council, Reuters reports.

Leading rabbis have also gathered at the West Bank settlements to support the families from the nine homes. Earlier this month, over 5,000 people protested the evacuation at a demonstration in Ofra, with the leader of the National-Religious rabbis, Haim Druckman, addressing the public and saying “we will continue to settle the Land of Israel… We are not thieves.”

All Israeli settlements are considered to be illegal according to international law, yet there are around 550,000 Israelis living in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.