Israeli army says it is prepared for violence

Hundreds of people holed up Tuesday at a Jewish settlement outpost in the West Bank, laying barbed wire and cement blocks as they vowed to prevent its evacuation. The army and police have deployed 7,000 forces, expecting violence during the dismantling of Amona, military officials said. The evacuation could begin later Tuesday, Army Radio reported. Settlers established the outpost, and dozens others, without authorization in an effort to prevent the transfer of disputed land to Palestinians who want to include the West Bank in a future state. Israel has committed in the internationally-backed "road map" peace plan to dismantle about two dozen of the outposts.

Troops expected the evacuation of Amona would involve opposition like that used by settlers who tried to prevent Israel's "disengagement," the evacuation in September of 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip, said Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh, commander of army forces in the West Bank.

During the Gaza withdrawal, hundreds of settlers holed up in synagogues and homes and threw objects and chemicals at soldiers evacuating them. "Will there be violence of the level of the disengagement? I am afraid there will be more," Naveh told Israel Radio late Monday. "Are we preparing for extreme situations? The answer is yes." The security forces include special troops armed with clubs and helmets who expect to make a large number of arrests, Naveh said.

The army set up roadblocks Monday but by Tuesday morning hundreds of opponents to the evacuation, most of them youths, had flooded the hilltop and the nearby settlement of Ofra. Several of the youths laid barbed wire and cement blocks on the roofs of some of the nine permanent buildings in the outpost where they apparently planned to resist evacuation.

Also Tuesday, eight Jewish settlers left an outpost set up in a Palestinian market in the West Bank city of Hebron after receiving assurances that they could return, Israeli media reported. Israeli defense officials confirmed Monday that they had reached an agreement with the settlers that the squatters would leave voluntarily and be allowed to return legally at a later time, reports the AP. I.L.

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