(Michael Den Heijer shows how much of his home is deemed illegal. Photo: Emanuel Miller)

Thirteen families in the Netiv Ha’Avot neighbourhood in Elazar, a hamlet in the Gush Etzion bloc of communities, are preparing for the final hours before their homes are demolished on Tuesday by the Israeli authorities.

After a intense, protracted legal battle, anti-Israel activists working for the “Peace Now” movement have the victory they sought – the removal of a number of Jewish families from their homes in Judea.

Well-Built, Spacious and Modern
A campaign by the families to save their homes was regrettably organised too late, seemingly because they were certain that such a situation could never come to pass. When families moved into the empty hilltop and established themselves there, they could never have imagined any legal problems.

It’s easy to imagine communities such as this as transient and flimsy, but the homes in Netiv Ha’Avot are well-built, spacious and modern. For years, the families received Israeli government assistance, as roads were paved, electricity supplied and water pumped in and out of their homes.

“The government recognised our presence, we were given signs that our community would received all the right permissions,” was the refrain as a number of residents spoke out at a mass prayer event the day before the evacuation.

Theatre of the Absurd
While there’s plenty of animosity against the extreme left-wing organisations which organised to remove the Jews from their homes, on one thing the residents and the pressure groups can agree; that a narrow strip of contentious land runs through the properties. The residents contend that the owners of the land are unknown and therefore demolishing the homes is unnecessary and cruel, and in any case – in some cases the problematic area is limited to a specific corner or area of a house.

“Why can’t I just remove this side of the room?” asked Michael Den Heijer, who lives in one of the homes. “The whole house is going to be destroyed because of a one-meter wide patch on the edge of my daughter’s bedroom. Where is the sense in this?”

As numerous signs and banners posted around the neighborhood proclaim: “Welcome to the absurd”. Unless something dramatic changes before Tuesday morning, the families will see their homes in ruins.