IDF denies it plans to remove 23 outposts on same day

Defense officials say evacuation of so many outposts in one day would be "near impossible."

settler demolished outpost 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
settler demolished outpost 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
The army rejected on Tuesday a report it plans to evacuate 23 illegal West Bank outposts in a single shot, saying it has received no such orders from the political echelon. The evacuation of so many outposts in one day would be "near impossible" due to the manpower that would be required, defense officials said. "The entire police force and a significant portion of the IDF would be needed to evacuate all of outposts in one day," a defense official said, adding that once the IDF received a directive to remove outposts from the political echelon it would begin formulating an operational plan. Israel has promised the United States it would remove 26 outposts built after March 2001. But it speaks of 23 because there is a deal to relocate the largest one, Migron. In 2008 the IDF removed two of them, Yatir South and Mevo Horon North. Dani Dayan, who heads the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said he also didn't believe it would be possible to evacuate all 23 in one strike, but that he did not put it beyond the army to initiate a commando raid in the middle of the night against one of the outposts. "I hope that they would not do that, but I do not think the important thing is the tactic," said Dayan. The problem was that a Likud-led government, which had coalition partners such as Israel Beiteinu, Shas and Habayit Hayehudi, had not approved a single building plan new apartments in the settlements, he said. And at the same time, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had "warmed the bulldozers" when it came to destroying Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria, Dayan said. Esther Karish of the Samaria Citizens Committee said the issue was not the timeframe. So they do it in a week and not a day, she said. The level of fear and tension was very high, because settlers believed the IDF would act against the outposts soon, she said. To prevent the demolition of any outpost, settlers are lobbying politicians and readying activists to head to protect the hilltop communities. For the past year, as a warning to the IDF, settlers have enacted a "price tag" policy against any demolition of Jewish structures in Judea and Samaria. On Monday, in the aftermath of the destruction of isolated structures in three outposts in the Binyamin region, settlers throughout the West Bank torched trees, stoned Palestinian vehicles and blocked roads. Tensions remained high on Tuesday. According to police, a group of masked individuals believed to be settlers hacked at olive trees in near Yitzhar, south of Nablus. Earlier on Tuesday, Palestinian Legislative Council member Walid Assef was lightly wounded and his car was damaged by stones allegedly thrown by settlers near the Gilad Farm outpost in Samaria. A member of the army's civil administration aided the parliamentarian and recommended he file a complaint with the police. A spokesman for Gilad Farm said no one from the outpost was connected to the incident. Separately on Tuesday, police arrested three people in Bat Ayin, Gush Etzion, wanted for a series of crimes. During the arrests, one of the three, a 30-year-old man, verbally threatened the life of one of the officers.