Waves of police surrounded a Jewish settlement in the West Bank deemed illegal by the Israeli high court and began dragging angry residents, sputtering curses and prayers, out of their mobile homes.

After years of delay, the evacuation of the hard-line Amona settlers commenced, as youths in skullcaps burned tyres, hurled rocks, and pushed and shoved authorities, alternately taunting police and pleading with them to disobey their orders to empty the community.

The day's bitter clashes transfixed the nation, as Jews evicted Jews, with the democratic state fighting to uphold the rule of law as religious, messianic settlers claimed the rule of God. The scenes played out live on television and the Internet, as Israeli politicians promised this would not happen again.

Israeli society and its leaders have struggled since the 1970s with the growth of settlements in the occupied territories. The state always protects, often abets but sometimes thwarts the pioneers. Many Israelis withhold full-throated support, in part from fear of angering the Americans, and the rest of the world, which condemn the building as illegal or worse.


The Israeli Supreme Court ordered the demolition of the village of 40 families in 2014 because it was built on land privately owned by Palestinians from the neighbouring villages. Many settlers and their supporters who climbed the rocky hill to defend Amona blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the community's imminent destruction.

As the thousands of police officers carried red-faced settlers and demonstrators from the homes, bulldozers idled down the hill, ready to knock down the cheap metal caravans, as well as playgrounds, vineyards, olive groves and a synagogue.