Netanyahu asks Gantz to delay evacuation of settler outpost Evyatar

Written by on June 9, 2021

In his last days in office Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked for a delay in the anticipated evacuation of 47 families from the West Bank outpost of Evyatar pending an examination into authorizing the fledgling hilltop community.

“At this stage I’m asking that you refrain from executing this enforcement action,” the chief of staff for the Prime Minister’s Bureau Asher Hayon wrote to Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

The letter was sent in response to an injunction the Civil Administration issued to the outpost on Sunday, warning it could evacuate after eight-days.

Should the Civil Administration make good on that threat, it would mean that the evacuation would take place just one day after the government headed by party heads Naftali Bennett of Yamina and Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid is scheduled to be sworn in.

The injunction would shut down the site in a particularly draconian way, prohibiting people from entering and exiting the site and is not typically used in such situations.

Hayon noted in his letter that such an injunction is meant to be used in extraordinary circumstances when a standard enforcement action is not an option and should have received Netanyahu’s approval.

“More to the point,” he wrote, “in this situation based on the facts that have been given to me, the territory on which the compound is situated is survey land and could be declared state land.” In light of this, the next proper step is to explore this option, he added.

The Evyatar outpost was first built illegally in 2013 in the aftermath of the terror attack in which an Israeli actor, Evyatar Bobrovsky, 31, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist at the Tapuah junction. The IDF evacuated it almost immediately.

Settlers headed by the Nahala Movement made their latest push to illegally build the outpost last month in the aftermath of the drive-by-shooting at the same junction. Yehuda Guetta, 19, who was on his way to the nearby Itamar Yeshiva was killed in the terror attack.

In the last month some 47 families have moved onto the site, which has expanded rapidly to include a synagogue and a daycare.

They are hoping that the government will allow them to remain and retroactively authorize the small community as an entirely new settlement. Such authorizations for an entirely new settlement are rarely given.

After Netanyahu intervened to delay the evacuation, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan called on all parliamentarians in the Knesset, on the Left and on the Right to support the authorization of Evyatar.

On Thursday the community plans to hold an event with parliamentarians to welcome in a new Sefer Torah, which is a handwritten biblical scroll on parchment.

On Wednesday its supporters were in the Knesset attempting to rally support for the authorization of the new community and to protest the IDF injunction.

Dagan symbolically moved his office there on Monday and held meetings there with MK Moshe Arbel of Shas and others. Yamina defector MK Amichai Chikli also visited the outpost and spent a night there.

The building of a new Jewish community in Judea and Samaria “is the proper response to the murder that took place here,” Dagan said.

It was shameful, he said, that the Civil Administration which lacks manpower to prevent illegal Palestinian building has an “obsession” with preventing Jewish building, he said, adding that the political echelon was similarly intent on destroying the community.

Dagan, who campaigned for Netanyahu, blamed the political echelon for the demolition plans.

“Don’t lay a hand on Evyatar,” Dagan said, as he called on government ministers to take action.

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