JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli security forces completed the evacuation of Amona Thursday, removing about 200 Israelis who had taken refuge in the community's synagogue.
While Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said they were hoping to complete the evacuation "without major incidents," 17 more police officers were injured Thursday and treated at the scene.
"Situation under control and coordination being made to remove all those removed from the synagogue out of the area of Amona," Rosenfeld reported by mid-afternoon.
Earlier, officers evacuated the building adjacent to the synagogue, while simultaneously meeting with the town's leaders.
"Police officers [are] talking with community leaders at the same time that the evacuation is taking place to prevent incidents at the scene," Rosenfeld said.
In an earlier post, Rosenfeld reported that 13 people were arrested for throwing stones and being involved in "disturbances during the evacuation."
Some said the confrontations between demonstrators and police were reminiscent of the evacuation of the Gush Katif Settlement Bloc in the Gaza Strip in August 2005. At that time the Israeli government evicted more than 9,000 Israelis from their homes.
Known as the "disengagement," the government under then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, destroyed 21 thriving Jewish communities inside Gaza and four more in northern Samaria. Sharon hoped a complete withdrawal of Jews from these areas would lead to peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.
In June 2007, however, Hamas violently overthrew Palestinian Authority security forces in Gaza, sending those who survived fleeing for their lives. Since that time, Israel has fought three wars with Hamas in 2009, 2012 and 2014.
Meanwhile, for the first time in more than a quarter of a century, the government announced the creation of a new Jewish community in Israel's biblical heartland.
Speaking from the Samarian Jewish city of Ariel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israelis share the pain Amona residents are experiencing.
"We all understand the depth of the pain and therefore we will establish a new settlement on state land," he said, adding that he'd already "formed a team that will determine the settlement location and get everything ready. And we will act so that it happens as soon as possible."
The announcement evoked the standard criticism from the European Union, United Nations and the Palestinian Authority.