Israel evacuates two W. Bank outposts

20 protesters gather in Shvut Ami, lay down wire, rocks on the road and chant slogans; none arrested.

outpost protest 224.88 (photo credit: Channel 1)
outpost protest 224.88
(photo credit: Channel 1)
Defense forces evacuated two unauthorized outposts in the West Bank on Wednesday, IDF officials said. Police and IDF troops arrived at the first outpost, Harchivi, near Nablus, and the five people there fled at the sight of the forces, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. No arrests were made. At the second outpost, Shvut Ami, also near Nablus, around 20 teenage protesters gathered at the scene before forces arrived, laying down barbed wire and rocks on the road and posting signs with slogans reading, "The land of Israel belongs to the people of Israel." Some protesters lay down on the floor of one of the two incomplete structures at the site and were carried out by police. "We want the nation to get behind us," said Yedidya Slonin, 17, one of the protesters. "We don't feel they're behind us right now but we hope they'll follow." Both outposts have been dismantled in the past, said Hagit Ofran, who tracks settlement growth for Peace Now. Following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's declaration on Sunday that illegal outposts in the West Bank were "a disgrace," senior defense officials close to Defense Minister Ehud Barak accused the prime minister of holding up a detailed plan to remove them. The plan has been presented to Olmert at least three times and could be ready for implementation within weeks if he approved it, the officials said. According to the proposal, a majority of the outposts would be evacuated while some - built on entirely Jewish-owned land - would be incorporated into existing settlements. "The plan is in its final stages and is almost finished," a senior defense official said. "The person who has been holding up the evacuations has been Olmert, who has yet to approve the plan." Yaakov Katz contributed to this report