Extreme Israeli settlers have launched a ‘day of rage’ in protest against the demolition of a handful of illegal structures in the Havat Gilad outpost.
Demonstrators briefly succeeded in blocking the main highway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Separately, demonstrators set fire to tires outside Jerusalem and another group sought to block the rail link between Modi’in and Ben Gurion airport. This action caused some train delays. The Yesha council of settlements has stated that it opposes the protests and that they are not affiliated with them.
The protests follow clashes between settlers and police in the Havat Gilad outpost, which is illegal in Israeli law as well as under international law, when security forces sought to demolish several structures on Monday. Eight settlers were arrested during the clash, which has led to a sharp rise in settler violence towards Palestinians over the past few days.
In contrast to the settlements, including outposts, Palestinian homes are routinely demolished – more than 24 000 have been destroyed since 1947. Except in cases of military necessity, this is illegal under international law as stipulated by article 53 of the 4th Geneva convention.
Since 2008 many extremist settlers have pursued a ‘price-tag’ policy whereby Palestinians are made to ‘pay a price’ for any attempt by the state to reign in settlement expansion. Attacks usually involve destruction of property, although some are violent and have led to deaths.
Israel has recently announced plans to demolish three outposts and retroactively “legalize” many more. Under international law, all settlements are illegal, although the United States has recently vetoed a security council resolution reaffirming this.