Israelis return to West Bank settlement evacuated in 2005
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Sa-Nur (Territoires palestiniens) (AFP) –
Dozens of Israelis have returned to a former West Bank settlement, evacuated in 2005 under orders from then prime minister Ariel Sharon, to claim the land as Israeli, multiple sources said Tuesday.
Sa-Nur was one of four settlements in the occupied West Bank that Sharon ordered evacuated by the army along with all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip.
Dozens of Jewish men, women and children arrived at Sa-Nur late Monday, said Israeli lawmaker Ariel Kallner, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party.
"I have to come to Sa-Nur to affirm that this place belongs to the people of Israel," he said in a video posted on his Facebook page.
On Tuesday, Jewish settlers had climbed to the top of an abandoned tower in Sa-Nur, while others were idling elsewhere, an AFP photographer said.
The mobile homes once stationed in Sa-Nur had been removed or destroyed, while a large building, originally built as a police station during British Mandate of Palestine, was stripped of doors and windows.
The large stone structure has also been used by the armies of Jordan, and later Israel.
Under the 2005 withdrawal, Israelis are prohibited from entering Sa-Nur in the northern West Bank, near the Palestinian city of Jenin.
Dozens of Israelis tried to re-establish a settlement in 2015 but were evicted by the army days after arriving.
Israeli lawmaker Betzalel Smotrich of the far-right Yemina party applauded the "Zionist" act of the settlers and urged Netanyahu to approve the reconstruction of Sa-Nur.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War.
All Jewish settlements in the Palestinian territory are considered illegal under international law.
But Israel has increasingly expanded the size and number of West Bank settlements, notably under Netanyahu's leadership since 2009.
US President Donald Trump's administration, condemned as blatantly pro-Israeli by the Palestinians, broke with decades of American practice by not opposing settlement expansion.
The Trump era has further fuelled a settlement boom, but President-elect Joe Biden has said his administration will restore US opposition against West Bank settlements.
© 2020 AFP