Israel removes settler outpost near Bethlehem
Published Wednesday 14/05/2014 (updated) 15/05/2014 21:59
A file picture shows an Israeli flag in the Jewish outpost of Maale
Rehavam in the heart of the occupied West Bank.(AFP/File)
MAALE REHAVAM, West Bank (AFP) -- Israeli military forces began demolishing structures in an illegal West Bank settler outpost on Wednesday, the army said, after attempts at a voluntary evacuation failed.
Soldiers at the Maale Rehavam outpost, southeast of Bethlehem, helped demolish 11 structures, five of which had been inhabited, a defense ministry spokesman told AFP.
Israeli media reported that the army was also to raze more than a dozen structures in two other outposts, Ramat Gilad and Givat Assaf, by the weekend.
The orders to remove the structures came after residents refused to evacuate voluntarily.
Israel's High Court ruled in November that the state must remove the structures which were on privately-owned Palestinian land.
Last year Israeli settlement watchdog Peace Now said the government had decided to legalize a number of outposts which were on land purchased from Palestinians, including parts of Maale Rehavam.
Israel considers settlement outposts built without government approval to be illegal, although they receive support and finances from government ministries.
The international community considers all settlements built in the West Bank -- including East Jerusalem -- to be illegal.
Israel has established over 100 illegal settlements in the West Bank since occupying the Palestinian territory in 1967.
The construction of settlements "preclude any real possibility of establishing an independent, viable Palestinian state as part of the fulfillment of the right to self-determination," according to B'Tselem.
There are now some 530,000 settlers living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Ma'an staff contributed to this report