I have to laugh at the irony of a Negev eco-community being evacuated עברית on the grounds that it was 1) illegal and 2) damages the environment. My favorite quote was that of Judge Yosef Alón remarking, “public lands are not up for grabs for anyone who wants to take possession of them.” Really? It appears that this is true only in Israel proper, or has His Honor not heard about West Bank outposts erected precisely on land “up for grabs for anyone who wants”? Moreover, you want to talk about environmental damage caused by the settlements? A search turned this up in seconds. Hard to see how a bunch of geodesic domes causes as much damage as this or this or this.
Oh, but wait: Why should we believe a bunch of olive farmers and shepherds? Perhaps because our patriarch Abraham had this exact problem in Genesis 21:25 (which I believe we’re coming up on this very week in Parshát Toldót), except the roles are switched: Abraham complains to Abimelech that Abimelech’s servants filled Abraham’s well with earth. And guess what Abimelech replies? The same thing that the IDF Military Liaison rattles off every other day in response to Pali complaints of harassment, vandalism, or other settler recreational pursuits: "I do not know who has done this thing; you did not tell me, nor did I hear of it until today." [Gen 21:26]. Fast forward to 2013: I would hope that having once been shepherds ourselves – utterly dependent upon accessible, uncontaminated water – we could do better than the Philistines did to us.