West Bank Mama

The Human Side of the Settlements: The Forest and the Trees

2011 March 3

Yesterday the police moved in and razed a tent and some buildings in Chavat Gilad, what is called by some an “outpost” – what I like to think of as a baby yishuv. The police were particularly violent, and shot people in the back with what they claim to be paintballs, and others claim to be rubber bullets. You can see some of the injuries here at the Muqata blog. The violence of the police caused an uproar in the dati-leumi community (national religious) and many decided to protest. Some went to places in Yehuda and Shomron (Judea and Samaria) and some went to block streets in Jerusalem, and many clashed again with police.

The forest in this situation is the politics. For those of you unfamiliar with the territory, let me give you a basic rundown. An “outpost” is a place where Jews have decided to build homes somewhere in Yehuda and Shomron, but is now considered illegal. Some of these outposts can be as small as a few tents, some are much bigger and consist of caravans and even permanent housing. Most (not all) yishuvim in Yehuda and Shomron were started in this way, and as they grew they accrued the necessary permits and eventually became legal. This process is a long one, and ends with the signature of the Defense Minister. (Yes, the only difference between a legal and illegal yishuv is sometimes this one signature.) That is why there is such a difference between one outpost and another. The older ones cannot be distinguished from a regular yishuv. The newer ones are usually small and very temporary.

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