Giv'at Asaf, fall 2011
Giv'at Asaf (Hebrew: גִּבְעַת אָסָף or Givat As(s)af, lit. Asaf Hill) is an Israeli outpost in the West Bank. Located 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) from the settlement of Beit El, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Mateh Binyamin Regional Council. It has about 30 structures and is home to some 30 families. It was established in May 2001 after the murder of Asaf Hershkovitz, a resident of Ofra, for whom it was named. The international community considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal under international law, but the Israeli government disputes this. According to the 2005 Sasson Report, Giv'at Asaf was built on privately owned Palestinian land, and is therefore also illegal under Israeli law.
Giv'at Asaf was established in 2001 and named after Assaf Hershkovitz, a 31-year-old settler from Ofra who was shot dead by Palestinian gunmen. A placard was placed at the entrance of the outpost that said "We have come back home". According to Benny Gal, the community leader, "On this exact spot, 3,800 years ago, the land of Israel was promised to the Hebrew people".
A demarcation order was issued in 2004, and renewed in 2006, to establish the boundaries of the outpost, but building beyond it went on despite the order.
In 2004, then Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz issued an order to evacuated illegal outposts, including Giv'at Asaf. In 2006, his successor Amir Peretz extended the evacuation order by two years following a petition filed by the settlers, announcing that at the end of that period the settlers would be evacuated by force if needed. In 2008, Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced that the order would be extended for an additional year, during which the state would attempt to negotiate with the settlers. In May 2009, in response to a petition filed by Peace Now, the Supreme Court issued an order demanding that the state explain within 90 days why the illegal outposts have not yet been evacuated.
In March 2011, in response to another petition by Peace Now, the Israeli government announced its decision to dismantle all illegal outposts built on private Palestinian land by the end of 2011, including Giv'at Asaf. The residents of Giv'at Asaf vowed "a violent struggle" against their removal. In November 2011, the government asked the Supreme Court to give them an extension for the Giv'at Asaf razing, affirming that it is in talks with the outpost's representatives, and is asking them to clear out by 1 July 2012.
A case involving the forging of documents for a land sale at Giv'at Asaf led to an indictment for illegal land transference from Palestinians to Israelis. The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court Judge's decision in October 2009 said "The move was intended to transfer lands owned by Arab residents to the ownership of Jews. The success of the conspiracy by the accused and his colleagues was liable, with very great likelihood, to have aroused hostilities between population groups in this context that could have been considered land theft."
In 2011, fifteen gravestones in the Mamilla Cemetery were spray painted with red graffiti that said "Death to the Arabs" and the name of the Giv'at Asaf outpost in a "price-tag" attack. In November 2011, the apartment building in Jerusalem where Peace Now's Settlement Watch director Hagit Ofran lives was sprayed with the slogans "the revenge of Givat Assaf", "regards from Oz Zion", and "death to Hagit Ofran". Haaretz reported that it was probably a response to the Oz Zion outpost's evacuation and the government's decision to evacuate the Giv'at Asaf outpost.
In May 2013, the Israeli government announced it was considering legalizing Giv'at Asaf, along with three other unauthorized outposts. According to the state, while Giv'at Asaf had originally been deemed problematic, the land on which it sat had since been purchased. In response, the US State Department said the US would not "accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity" and that "continued settlement activity is counterproductive to the cause of peace".
In May 2014, settlers dismantled four homes in the outpost built on private Palestinian property in accordance with a High Court of Justice order issued in response to a 2007 petition by Peace Now.
Impact on Palestinians
According to Haaretz, since the outpost was established, Palestinians from the village of Burqa have been unable to access the direct road that links their village to Route 60 and the neighboring village of Beitin, which has resulted in what was "a trip of a few minutes" becoming "a long, circuitous journey".
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- Chaim Levinson (7 March 2011). "Cabinet: All West Bank outposts on private Palestinian land to go by year's end". Haaretz. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
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- David Rieff (2011). Against Remembrance. Melbourne University Publishing. p. 114. ISBN 9780522858600.
- Efrat Weiss (16 November 2006). "Evacuate? Settlers continue to expand outposts". Ynetnews.com. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
- Aviad Glickman (13 May 2009). "Court orders state to move forward with evacuating outposts". Ynetnews.com. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
- Yair Altman (7 October 2011). "Settlers vow to resist future evictions". Ynetnews.com. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
- Aviad Glickman (10 November 2011). "State: Razing of Amona outpost by end of 2012". Ynetnews.com. Retrieved 24 November 2011.
- Amira Hass, In West Bank, buying land isn't always what it seems,' at Haaretz, January 10, 2012.
- "'88% of Jewish Israelis oppose price tag attacks'". The Jerusalem Post. 10 November 2011.
- "'Rabin is waiting' sprayed on peace activist's door". Haaretz. 9 November 2011.
- "State considering legalizing four West Bank outposts". The Times of Israel. May 16, 2013.
- Barak Ravid (21 May 2013). "Kerry calls Israeli envoy to protest legalization of West Bank outposts". Haaretz.
- "Four homes demolished in Givat Assaf outpost". The Jerusalem Post. 16 May 2014.
- Dividing Palestinian Communities: the Impact of the Givat Assaf Outpost, Spotlight 19, MA'AN Development Center, 2013
- givat asaf - website
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