Outposts: the Unripe Settlements

Outposts: the Unripe Settlements

Following the 1967 war when Israel captured the West Bank, Israel declared vast areas of the West Bank as 'State Land' designated for settlements, natural reserves, and military closed areas. The commencement of the colonization campaign started soon enough following the war with encouragement of the Israeli government regardless of the party in power. Under the pretext of ''security'', ''natural growth'' and historic/ religious rights, the colonization movement extended all over the Palestinian territories. Today, the estimated population of the settlements is nearly 435,000 (including East Jerusalem), inhabiting more than 280 settlements erected on expropriated Palestinian lands. In apathy to the international law and the Forth Geneva Convention of 1949, the consecutive Israeli governments continued with their colonizing activities of the West bank and Gaza to the fullest. After the signing of the first OSLO peace accord with the Palestinians in 1993, the consecutive governments of Israel both (Labor & Likud) intensified the colonization activities allowing the settlers population to double from 100,000 to 231,000 in 2003 (WB & G excluding Jerusalem).


Outposts, a new technique improvised by the Israeli settlers in 1996 along with indirect government concession to confiscate more Palestinian lands and build new settlements. The practice involves capturing land on Palestinian hilltops or in-close perimeter of existing settlements (1mile to 4 miles away) and setting-up mobile caravans, declaring the site as a new settlement or a new neighborhood of adjacent settlement. Israel PM Ariel Sharon, the utmost supporter of settlements and outposts and a pioneer in his calling for settlers to take control of hilltops in the West Bank before 'losing them to Palestinians in negotiations'.    


It seems that Israel is employing the illegal outposts erected by the settlers throughout the West Bank to its fullest advantage. It became clear that whenever the heat is on, the Israeli government finds a salvage talking about weeding-out the outposts rigged by the settlers on the hilltops at various locations of the West Bank. Although, these outposts originated with government blessings and many times with the assistance of the Israeli Army and under its protection, it has proven to be most useful as propaganda gimmick whenever the international community tackles the settlements issue. The evacuation game played by the Israeli consecutive governments is no longer valid or convincing, as the governments orders for evacuation of the illegal outposts are either ignored or pretense between the settlers and the Army. Frequently, outposts set for evacuation have no inhabitants living at the sites and only a handful or less of mobile homes with no infrastructure whatsoever. Obviously,   the decision to take an evacuation order to such sites is not startling in anyway, even with the settlers' 'will-played retort' to the order. It seems, that whenever the Israeli government decides to go-on all the way with its bogus orders to evacuate illegal outpost, it concede establishing several others or even worse; confer authorization and financial support to tender infrastructure (electricity, water, sewage and asphalt roads) to other outposts some where else in an initiating step to set-up a new settlement.  


The Palestinian-Israeli peace accords and the following summits all conceded that all Israeli settlement activities in the West Bank must come to a halt, including outposts' activities. Naturally, Israel apathy to peace accords and international law is infamous.


The number of Israeli out-posts dismantled since February 2001 to November 2002 is 10. During that same period, 60 other outposts were established (Peace Now). Prior to the date stated above, the number of outposts established since 1996 to February 2001 is 41. Clearly, the dismantling process of the outposts is no more than a charade mastered by the Israeli government, which adopted the Knesset decision of July 2003 to dismantle all unauthorized outposts. The outposts' activities kicked-off in 1996 with four outposts and by the year 2000, the number of outposts has escalated to 40 averaging 10 new outposts every year. When the Palestinian Intifada broke out in September 2000, two new outposts where detected. In 2001, when Ariel Sharon came to power, 20 new outposts where set up. In 2002, the outposts became an epidemic, as nearly 50 new outposts were recorded, averaging four outposts per month. The number of outposts today, is 113 (ARIJ 2003). According to the Israeli government, one third of outposts are classified as illegal, the second third is classified with ''uncertain status'' while the remaining one-third is politically propped. Typically, four identified methods, utilized by the Israeli settlers to confiscate Palestinian lands and all are illegal and inconsistent with international laws and the Forth Geneva Convention of 1949, making the pretext for landownership no more than a charade. Israeli Outposts frequently built on areas proclaimed by the Israeli Army as ''security areas'' which later on conveyed to the Israeli settlers control after the Israeli Army evacuate the areas. Other outposts erected along confiscated lands or on buffer zones of bypass roads constructed for Israeli settlements (only) located nearby. The massive lands seized (confiscated) and proclaimed as ''State Lands'' by Israel in addition to private purchases (in most cases fraud) are all conventional methods the settlers used to control the land and erect the outposts.  


The tactics of the outposts are parallel to those of the Israeli settlements, which is to confiscate as much land as possible before any final agreement with the Palestinians. The Israeli government has always been a constant, but covert supporter of the colonial activities in the West Bank particularly after the signing of the peace accords. Today, the Israeli government crookedly employs the Israeli settlers to confiscate more Palestinian lands to alter the final status agreement to its own benefit. Israel PM Sharon, notorious and hard-core supporter of settlers heading dangerously proclaimed government, aims to create contiguity within Israeli settlements in the West Bank and with Israel, even if/ and probably to eliminate territorial contiguity within the West Bank and within the anticipated State of Palestine. The created outposts along with the Israeli Army roadblocks, trenches, checkpoints and now the Segregation Wall among others have shattered the Palestinian territories to pieces.


The outposts' budget integrated with the well-concealed settlements budget, which exceeds US$1 billion a year. The budget is incorporated but sneaked within nearly all ministries budgets (agriculture, transportation, religion, defense, industrial, etc), making it difficult to identify and track the channeled budget into the settlements and the outposts.


The 'inspiration' to establish outposts in its greater sense attributed to Israel PM Ariel Sharon who propped up the idea to let the Israeli settlers take control of areas adjacent to existing (mother) settlements and call them neighborhoods]. The fashioned system referred to is ''Plant A Flag'' intended to seize (confiscate) more Palestinian lands to expand the existing Israeli settlements or/ and establish new ones.


'According to Peace Now, about half of the outposts, 49, are located within a kilometer of the mother settlement, while 21 outposts lie one to two kilometers away, 13 are two to three kilometers away, four are three to four kilometers, three are four to five kilometers, and two are five to six kilometers (no data is available for the other 23).  Overall, 50 outposts lie beyond, and 61 lie within, the municipal boundaries of the mother settlement.  The status of the remaining five is unclear.  Fifteen of the outposts have no buildings, 37 have up to five buildings, another 24 have five to ten buildings, 14 have ten to 20, 13 have 20 to 30, and four have 30 to 40 (no data is available for the remaining 15).  The largest outposts are: Itamar's Hill 851, which is home to some 30 people; Bruchin, with 27 families; Magron, with 30 families; and Amona, with 19 families.  Nine settlements have been particularly active in setting up new outposts.  Peace Now said Itamar has built seven (six of them manned); five apiece were established by Eli, Shvut Rachel, Ofra and Bat Ayin (of which, respectively, five, four, two, and two are inhabited); and four apiece were built by Ma'aleh Michmas, Yitzhar, Bracha, and Sussya.  The Binyamin regional council has the most outposts (40), followed by the Samaria regional council (35), Gush Etzion (17), Mount Hebron (16), and Hebron-Kiryat Arba (3)'. (Haaretz, 6/3/03)


In December 2003, an Israeli consortium that included judicial consultants for the Israeli Army and other military ranks and after 'extensive deliberations' that lasted weeks conceded the 'illegal Status' of 28 outposts established after March 2001 (10 of which uninhabited) and accommodate 400 Israeli settlers. The 28 outposts proclaimed for evacuation are no more than a soothing performance on the Israeli part to the increasing pressure inflicted by the US government and the European Commission. See map of outposts



The evacuation charade makes no sense other than the ironic Israeli claim regarding its legality status since all outposts, as settlements are illegal, even though dismantling the outposts is a: must procedure and not an optional one as it is acknowledged in the United Nations resolutions and the internationally witnessed and signed treaty between the Palestinians and Israelis. The nominated 28 outposts for evacuation will have no significance whatsoever on the current standings between the Palestinians and Israeli unless it is followed-by a series and parallel behavior for the rest of the outposts and the settlements within the anticipated Palestinian State.      


The fact is that there is no such thing as legal or illegal outposts since the consecutive Israeli governments sanctioned its establishment one way or the other. To make a distinction between legal and illegal outposts is to concede the earlier existence and facilitate the alteration of today's outpost to tomorrows' legal settlement which is why the outposts issue (legal & illegal) should not be turned into a main separate theme.


Table 1: Nominated Israeli Populated Outposts for Evacuation 

# Outpost MotherSettlement Location & Features
1 Migoron Pesagot 1km SE/ 43 families/ synagogue/ school
2 Ma'aon Farm Maon 1km E/ few settlers/ evacuated during PM Barak and rebuilt later
3 Gil'ad Farm Kedumim 2.5km SW/ 3 families/ evacuated in 2002 and rebuilt later
4 Giva't Saliet Mehola 250m W/ 5 families
5 Ya'ier Farm (Noveim Darom) Yakir 850m SW/ 12 families
6 Ma'ale Rahba'am El David (Kfar Eldad) 1km SE/ few families
7 Mitzpe'h Laqish (Nogohot Ma'arab) Negohot 800m/ 4 families
8 Nove Makhmeih Racheliem(Shvut Rahel) 1km SW/ 10 families
9 Ashal Mezadot Yehuda(Beit Yattir) Few kmâ??s N/ 7 settlers
10 Giva't Abigal Maon 2.5km SW/ 5 settlers
11 Giva't Harowah Eli 1km S/ 10 families
12 Giva't 725 Yizhar 1km S/ 2 families
13 Mitzpe'h Yizhar Yizhar 2 km SE/ 7 settlers/ evacuated in June 2003 and activate weeks later
14 Neveh Denial – North Neve Daniyyel 1km N/ few families
15 Ginot Arieh Ofra 100m S/ 2 families & 20 settlers
16 Tequa – South Tekoa 1km S/ 5 families
17 Shakied Farm Yizhar Hundred of meters S/ few settlers
18 Ma'ahal Ornieh Unknown  Unknown


Table 2: Nominated Israeli Unpopulated Outposts for Evacuation

# Outpost MotherSettlement Location
1 Mabo Horown Farm Mevo Horon South
2 Red House -NG- 805 Racheliem(Shvut Rahel) 2.5km E
3 Tal Benyamin Ofra SW
4 Hazoun David Qiryat Arba Few meters W
5 Yatier – South Mezadot Yehuda(Beit Yattir SW
6 Bet Ayien – West Bet Ain 2km W
7 Sdah Qalb Qiryat Arba 1km S
8 Mitze'h Asaf Ofra S
9 Giva't Hadighal Kedumim N
10 Roghoum Al-Himri Unknown Unknown





Related articles

1.     New settlement outposts are still erected, August 2003

2.     Dismantling or reallocating, June 2003.

3.     Israel's Latest Colonization Activities: 24 new settlements and 113 new outposts in the west Bank, October 2002.

Prepared by:
The Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem

Categories: Settlement Expansion