A Jewish settler is blocked by Israeli security forces, after a border police unit evacuated settlers from the so-called Dreinoff buildings which were due to be demolished under Israeli court ruling, in the settlement of Bet El, north of Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. AFP
Jewish settlers clashed with Israeli police on Tuesday as authorities took control of homes being built in the occupied West Bank, after a court ruled that the illegal structures must be demolished.
The Israeli High Court last month ordered the two structures in the Beit El settlement north of Ramallah to be razed before July 30.
Around 50 settler youths had however holed up in the structures to protest against the demolition and were evacuated by police before dawn.
Video released by local media showed police pushing back protesters who confronted them at the site of the so-called Dreinoff buildings, reportedly being built on private Palestinian land that was seized by the army in the 1970s.
"A border police unit on Tuesday took control of the Dreinoff buildings ahead of their demolition as ordered by the High Court with the aim of avoiding violence during the operation," an Israeli military statement said.
There has however been further legal manoeuvring seeking to prevent the demolition of the structures and it was unclear whether the order would be carried out.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also opposes the demolition and his government was pursuing legal means to prevent it, according to a statement from his office.
Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank are considered illegal under international law, though not by the Israeli government. They are seen as further complicating peace negotiations aimed at leading to an independent Palestinian state. Talks have been stalled since last year.
Settlement organisations also wield significant influence in Netanyahu's right-wing government, which has only a narrow majority in parliament following March elections.
In a separate incident on Tuesday, several hundred people illegally entered the former Sa-Nur settlement in the northern West Bank. Israel had evacuated the settlement in 2005.