Nearly six months have passed since thousands of soldiers evacuated settlers from Gush Katif and the northern West Bank; the scenes are expected to repeat themselves on Wednesday during the clearing of the Amona outpost, near the West Bank settlement of Ofra.
Some 6,000 soldiers and police officers are expected to take part in the evacuation of the settlers and those who poured into the outpost to support them (several thousand according to estimations).
It is feared that the evacuation will involve some violence.
Waiting on the rooftops at Amona (Photo: AP)
Tuesday evening, as Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert presented Kadima’s list of Knesset candidates for the upcoming elections, Yesha rabbis stated that his government “has declared war on the Land of Israel and the public loyal to it.”
“We must stop the persecution of Jews and the selling of our sacred land by all possible means,” the rabbis said in a statement.
A total of nine homes are slated for destruction, but the outpost has become a symbol for the West Bank settlers’ struggle, perhaps ahead of another Israeli pullout from the region (“the shaping of Israel's permanent borders as a state with a clear and solid Jewish majority,” as Olmert put it.)
The settlers plan to fortify each of the nine homes; the doors have already been sealed shut, forcing the youths who arrived at the outpost in a show of support to enter the homes through the windows.
'This is not just a battle for our home'
Others will make due with climbing onto the rooftops, where barbwire fences have been prepared in advance.
Yesha Council members said they received guarantees that stones would not be thrown from the rooftops, but just to be on the safe side, adults were assigned to supervise the youths vacating each of the homes.
'We will not play into Olmert’s hands' (Photo: AP)
Settler leaders have instructed the youths to remain passive in their resistance.
“We will not play into Olmert’s hands despite the continued attacks against us,” one Yesha Council member said.
“This is not just a battle for our home; it is a battle for religious Zionism as a whole.”
Security officials, for their part, stated that the evacuating forces will operate “without sentiment.”
“Any one walking around with a hood will be arrested immediately,” one official said.
“The same is true for settlers who will throw stones at security forces. An order has been given to carry out as many arrests as possible.”
Security forces will form three circles around the site designated for evacuation following the disengagement model. The evacuating forces are equipped with clubs, water hoses and other crowd-dispersing equipment such as tear gas, which will be used only if necessary and under authorization from the commanding officer.
On Tuesday some 150 settlers blocked a West Bank road in protest of the imminent Amona evacuation; some punctured the tires of an army vehicle and attacked the driver.
In another incident, Beit-El settlers entered the Palestinian village of Ein-Yavrud and proceeded to cast stones at the locals, until security forces dispatched to the scene eased tensions.
Hundreds of settlers arrived at the Harawa Checkpoint, south of Nablus and blocked passage through it. Some shattered the rear-view mirrors of an army jeep and punctured its tires.
In the settlement of Psagot two residents were caught wearing army attire and carrying night vision apparatus, nails and wire-cutters.