Amona eviction drama: smoke-and-mirrors that benefits Israeli settlement project?

Amona eviction drama: smoke-and-mirrors that benefits Israeli settlement project?
3 min read
03 February, 2017
Analysis: Israeli settlers achieved more victories from the simulated and dramatic eviction of Amona outpost.
The long-overdue eviction of Amona began on Wednesday [AFP]
The eviction of hardline Israeli settlers from the Amona outpost in the West Bank on Wednesday was broadcast in dramatic TV footage transmitted live and then flashed across news-rooms globally for the rest of the day.

Above all, the Israeli administration sought to appear to be upholding the rule of law against recalcitrant settlers.

Yet as an exercise in media control and image management, questions remain as to the extent to which the Amona "live-stream" was the conscious deployment of a smoke-screen for the concurrent series of policies that only bring to the fore the power of Israeli settlers and the relentless march of illegal settlement expansion on private Palestinian land.

The vivid footage of the Amona eviction saw images of angry settlers forced out of their settlements by unarmed Israeli security forces on the back of a court-order.

The drama only escalated as the day progressed and a group among the settlers refused the court order and sought to barricade themselves in a local synagogue.

For many, it would have made for compelling viewing.

In front of the local and international camera crews accompanied by an array of reporters, Israeli security services forced their way into the barricades.

Images beamed of black-smoke rising from tyres set alight by angry settlers amid the sound of feet dragged away by blue-clad Israeli police accompanied a backdrop of thuds made by rocks pelted by those trying to stop the evictions.

The footage had the desired effect as seen by the widespread reporting and commentary of the evictions both locally and in the global media.

To encapsulate the "victory" of the rule of law, Education Minister Naftali Bennett's declared on Wednesday that the settlers had "lost the battle".

At the same time, to encapsulate the pain felt by the now-dispossessed settlers, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called Wednesday "a difficult and sad day for the people of Israel", while castigating the settlers as "hooligans".

With Tel Aviv's assistance, the settlers' long overdue eviction turned into a fabricated drama to pave way for a scandalous expropriation law expected to pass through the Israeli Knesset next week.

The bill will essentially legalise many settlement outposts built illegally on privately-owned Palestinian land.

In the same vein, noticeable by its absence was the lack of coverage of the demolitions of Palestinian homes in Kalansua and Umm al-Hiran, a likely "recompense" for those on Israel's extreme-right as a way to ease the trauma of Amona.

Moments before the Amona eviction footage started flashing across news rooms, decisions on the building of 3,000 new settler homes were pronounced by Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Similarly, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's announcement saw the declaration of a new settlement in the West Bank for the first time in twenty years.

Any decision to publically reject illegal settlement building and uphold the rule of law will find support between segments of the Israeli populace and the Palestinians as well as the broader international community.

Yet the emphasis on the "live-broadcast" of the drama behind the Amona evictions can only be read as an attempt to cast eyes away from the now seemingly unstoppable victories of the Israeli-right and the settler-movement in illegally appropriating Palestinian land.