Jewish settlers test Israeli government

Beita (West Bank)

From our correspondent

It all started on May 6, with a message shared on WhatsApp among a group of Israeli settler families. The death of an Israeli student, Yehuda Guetta, 19, in a shooting in the West Bank, had just been announced. Immediately, the decision of the whole group was made. “This time, we were going to go up to Evyatar and stay there”, says Serah Lisson, an Israeli mother, who is part of it.

The 34-year-old mother showered her six children, put them in her car with camping gear, and walked the few miles from her home to that hill south of Nablus. A brief epic in a minivan but, for her, the continuation of the Zionist journey started in the 19th century.e century to make the Promised Land bloom again by bringing back the chosen people.

Here, on the main road between Jerusalem and the northern part of the territory, each high point is a strategic position. Serah describes, in the early days, a summer camp atmosphere. Then, in May, as the conflict raged in Gaza and in Israeli towns, the construction, at night, financed by donations ” of the whole world “, roads, houses, a roundabout and a synagogue. Quickly “But according to the codes”.

Since 2013, the lives of residents of Palestinian villages who claim to own the land on what they call jabal al-sabih – the “morning mountain” – has been marked by multiple attempts at Israeli settlement. The very recent one of Evyatar is different: with this outpost, the settlers assess their ability to make themselves heard by the new coalition government, in which pro and anti-colonies coexist. (read opposite). The result: Defense Minister Benny Gantz, who had ordered Evyatar to be evacuated, was overtaken by his colleagues committed to the cause of “Greater Israel”.

Admittedly, Friday July 2, the settlers left, but only the time to verify if the land belongs to Palestinians. In the absence of such evidence, “legalizing” the settlement will become possible under Israeli law – not under international law. In the meantime, Israel does not destroy the site and maintains a military presence there.

“It is a total recognition”, angry Mossi Raz, deputy of the left-wing Meretz party, the only formation of the coalition to have spoken officially against the compromise. For him, “The current government acts exactly like the previous one on the Palestinian question”, the settlers “No longer need to exert pressure – they are the ones leading the debate”.

For nearly two months since the Lisson and 52 other families arrived in Evyatar, residents of Beita, the closest Palestinian village, have been protesting. “If we let them settle in, they will nibble our land”, says 32-year-old Zahi. Day and night, the acrid smoke billowing from the burnt tires blankets Evyatar. From the hill opposite, Palestinians shine lasers to blind the settlers, shout slogans, sometimes in rough and obscene Hebrew. Each evening, they approach by the hundreds, with the torch, braving tear gas. Israeli soldiers, often accompanied by armed settlers, keep them at bay.

During these daily tensions, more than 1,300 Palestinians were injured, nearly a quarter of them by gunfire. At least five people died, including two teenagers. Aboud Abdurahman, 17, was hit by a rubber bullet in the ankle. What annihilate the dreams of this young footballer, goalkeeper of the national junior team. Around his neck, the photo of a classmate, Mohamed Hamayel, also 17, killed by a bullet in the heart. ” We do not have a choice, said Aboud. As long as the buildings are there, we’ll be there. “


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