The Amona invaders face a problem: history proves they are lying.
Yesh Din holds rather incriminating documents about the history of the unauthorized outpost Amona, some of which were even previously published. But since the lies keep coming from the direction of Amona’s supporters, we decided to, once again, remind you of their existence. Lying does not require much work; disproving the lies does.
And since showing is always better than telling, we present you with the history of Amona as its residents would prefer you didn’t know (all documents are in Hebrew).
November 2nd, 1996
Our story, told mostly through the documents of the Civil Administration, begins on November 2nd 1996. An aide to the chief of the Infrastructure Division reports that three caravans (mobile homes) broke through the Hizme checkpoint at great speed, and that the soldiers “did not succeed” in stopping them. These caravans are later found east of the settlement Ofra, in a place which one day will be called Amona.
November 11th, 1996
About ten days after the three caravans crash through the IDF roadblock, the Civil Administration finds them and issues stop work orders. The settlers would claim, years later, that Amona never faced any such enforcement activity, and that the settlers there did not know they were building on private land. But enough with confusing people with the facts.
November 24th, 1996
The Civil Administration postpones its plans to remove the three caravans stationed in Amona. The documents do not detail the reason for the postponement, but it seems political pressure did its part. The date: November 24th, 1996, almost 20 years ago. The headless nail was hammered in; drawing it out would not be so easy.
April 29th, 1997
We jump ahead six months. The Civil Administration reports to Uri Ariel – at the time the chief of the Settlement Unit under Defense Minister Yizhak Mordechai (today Ariel serves as minister of agriculture) – about a meeting held by the Administration with settler leaders near Amona. On the settler side, the participants were comprised of Chief of the Regional Council of Mateh Binyamin at the time, Pinhas Valerstein; the CEO of settlement building company Amana, Ze’ev “Zambish” Hever; and the head of Ofra’s council. Valerstein and Hever are still very active in the settler movement.
The settlers raise several claims: they claimed that the caravans have been placed inside an area subject to a military seizure zone, and in response the Civil Administration makes clear that the seizure order is invalid (it is noteworthy that neither side raises the question of why or how an individual sees fit to take over land seized by the military for his or her own purposes). The settlers further claim that they have purchase papers for the land. The residents of Amona repeated that claim time after time over the past 20 years – but lo and behold, always found it difficult to produce genuine documents that proved they had bought the land. The legal advisor to the West Bank orders the issuing of demolition orders against the structures in Amona and opens an investigation into allegations of trespassing. Valerstein remains unfazed: he says that since this is a an area that dominates the entire region he is willing to move the caravans to the land subject to the seizure order [which has already been declared invalid – YZG] but emphasized he has no intention of removing them.
(In recent days, it must be mentioned, Valerstein seems to have changed his position – Hebrew link).
August 21st, 1997
The Amona invaders spent four pleasant months on the land, and then the chief of the Infrastructure Division in the Civil Administration reports of a conversation with the defense minister’s aide on settlements, Eli Cohen – who, by some unusual coincidence, would later become a Likud MK – and Uri Ariel. These two public servants ask the chief of the Infrastructure Division, given the aforementioned position by the legal advisor to the West Bank general counsel, to “take his time” before taking the issue of Amona into consideration, as his position is already known.
November 3rd, 1997
On this date, Cohen visits Amona along with Valerstein, Zambish and other settlers. Conspicuous in their absence are the Palestinian landowners and residents of the Palestinian villages on whose land Amona is being built. Cohen agrees to the first of several tricks: declaring Amona an archeological site.
April 20th, 1998
Cohen, still dealing with the issue of illegal construction at Amona, suggests a surprising solution: he will try to convince the settlers to leave of their own free will. This doesn’t happen, but note the date: we’re now in April 1998. Time is burning away.
August 2nd, 1998
The District Coordination Office (DCO) rejects the proposal to seize land in Amona for military purposes, since the land belongs to Palestinians, and the seizure is intended for the security of “the illegal settlement.” Again: this is 1998, not 2016. The DCO further mentions that the settlers of Ofra (as it calls them) moved a caravan there themselves, hoping the IDF will illegally man it, but that the regiment commander ordered the soldiers not to.
August 23rd, 1998
About three weeks later, the Civil Administration warns the residents of the Palestinian village Silwad not to hold a protest prayer in front of Amona. In an internal memo, the CA says it had previously convinced the residents to refrain from demonstrating, “using the pretext that the structures built there are being treated under the IC [illegal construction] Procedure, which takes a long time.” Are you familiar with the Amonite claim that the Palestinian owners did not protest the outpost? Amona is as Amona does: a baseless lie.
August 24th, 1998
A day later, the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council issues a tender for building an illegal road to “Amona Mountain.” The law is for the little people.
August 31st, 1998
A week later, the Civil Administration notices the illegal road work and issues a stop work order, as well as an order to demolish the road.
September 7th, 1998
The fact that the Civil Administration insists that the road construction is illegal does not prevent the Ministry of Housing (headed at the time by Benjamin Netanyahu) from allocating NIS 300,000 to pay for the illegal road on September 7th, 1998. The police did not investigate this government conspiracy to commit a crime.
February 5th, 2004
And so it goes: the Civil Administration keeps warning about illegal construction on private property, but – aside from creating impressive mountains of paper – does nothing. In February 2004, more than seven years after initially noticing the original illegal construction, the Civil Administration announces that, since the invaders claimed to have ownership of the land but failed (again!) to produce any documents supporting their claim, final demolitions orders are to be issued.
Yet Amona is still there. The government is supposed to remove the outpost on December 25th of this year, according to a ruling by the High Court of Justice in late 2014. Twenty years and a month after the removal of three caravans was postponed for political reasons, the government is now forced to deal with the removal of 40 families.
Wouldn’t it have been better to stop surrendering to the extreme right, and simply enforce the law?