Settlers build illegal outposts in West Bank

Hundreds of young settlers on Tuesday set up illegal outposts in the West Bank, a spokeswoman for the settlers said, defying a government pledge to remove the fledgling settlements. Datya Yitzhaki, a spokeswoman for the settler group Land of Israel Faithful, said 15 structures were established and predicted that 10 more would be erected by the end of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah on Sunday. She said between 60 and 200 people were squatting in each location.

Yitzhaki said the latest outposts were a response to the Israeli removal of the Gaza Strip settlements, known as Gush Katif, earlier this year. "What we are saying is that we won't allow other settlements to end up like Gush Katif. We will strengthen the settlements," said Yitzhaki, herself a former Gaza settler.

The army confirmed that several outposts were established near the West Bank town of Ramallah, but said the structures were not permanent and it planned no immediate action. It noted that most of the settlers were teenagers on school vacation and expected the outposts to be dispersed. Yitzhaki, though, remained defiant. "If the army comes to kick us out, we will come back," she said.

The U.S.-backed road map calls on Israel to remove West Bank outposts established after Ariel Sharon became prime minister in 2001, a step it has failed to carry out. A report by an Israeli investigator early this year found dozens of illegal outposts in the West Bank. On Tuesday, the settler group Yesha sent a letter to Sharon asking for an independent arbitrator to reevaluate the findings of the investigator, reports the AP. N.U.

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