IDF braced for violent Hebron evacuation

Fearing attacks against Palestinians, 21 far-right activists banned from city.

Obtaining a green light from the High Court of Justice, the IDF and Israel Police on Sunday began training and gearing up for violent confrontations expected later this week during the evacuations of the illegal outpost of Amona and the Hebron marketplace. Security officials said that already close to 100 far-right activists had infiltrated Hebron to assist settlers there in preventing the evacuation of the Mizpe Shalhevet outpost in the Hebron marketplace scheduled for Tuesday. Some 6,000 soldiers and policemen were scheduled to participate in the evacuation and the army planned to declare the area a closed military zone to prevent additional activists from reaching the city. The demolition and evacuation of nine permanent homes in Amona was scheduled to begin the day following the evacuation from Hebron - most probably on Wednesday or Thursday. On Sunday, Hebron Brigade commander Colonel Motti Baruch met with the Hebron settlers to convince them to evacuate willingly and without force. Security officials said they did not believe the talks would bear fruit and predicted settlers would violently resist the evacuation and might even open fire on evacuating forces. Channel 10 reported Sunday night that the settlers had reached an agreement with the army and that on Monday they planned to leave their homes willingly but Hebron spokesman David Wilder rejected the report. "We expect extreme violence during the evacuation," a senior officer told The Jerusalem Post. "We cannot rule out any scenario including the possibility that there will be gunfire." The officer said security forces planned to arrest anyone who raised a hand against a soldier or a policeman. "We will not tolerate any violence," he said. "If they throw rocks or paint bottles at us we will not let them get away." In an effort to quell settler resistance, OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh issued 21 restriction orders against far-right activists from across the West Bank on Sunday banning them from entering Amona or Hebron for the next month. In total, police only succeeded in delivering nine of the orders after they encountered fierce resistance during the distribution in the settlement of Yitzhar - a known right-wing stronghold. Four people were arrested after settlers there threw stones at police vehicles and spread spikes on the road. Security officials said the 21 people issued the orders were known far-right activists who the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) had gathered intelligence on indicating they could violently resist the evacuations or launch reprisal attacks against Palestinians. Meanwhile Sunday, close to 2,000 policemen began training for the evacuation which will be spearheaded by the Border Police and commanders who participated in the evacuation from the Gaza Strip this past summer. Evacuating forces will be split into three rings - with 1,600 in the inner circle charged with the physical evacuation; a second circle will be made up of close to 1,000 Border Policemen to deal with public disturbances; and the third circle will be made up of four infantry regiments totaling close to 3,000 soldiers who will secure the entire city and prevent clashes with local Palestinians. The evacuation will be commanded by Asst.-Cmdr. Meir Bokovza - deputy head of the Judea and Samaria District. Security forces, officials said, would employ similar methods to those used during the disengagement from the Gaza Strip this past summer. Evacuating forces will enter Hebron and Amona unarmed but will wear helmets and additional protective body gear. Those carrying out the operation will also be different than the policemen and soldiers who participated in the withdrawal from Gaza, police said.