Mofaz orders 3 illegal outposts razed

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz issued three more demolition orders for illegal outposts Thursday night: the Scali Farm near Eilon Moreh; the Arusi Farm near Har Bracha; and another site near Yitzhar. Mofaz last also announced plans to postpone the evacuation of the illegally-built settler homes in Amona near Ofra by two weeks. Expecting extreme violence during the planned evacuation at Amona, security officials had Thursday revealed plans to deploy snipers along the outpost's perimeter. "The assumption is that the evacuation of Amona is going to be much more violent than the pullout from Gush Katif," said one Defense Ministry official, whose car tires were slashed on Wednesday during the demolition of an illegal outpost in Gush Etzion. "For that reason we will not take any chances." Security forces have also been tasked with the evacuation of settlers from eight Palestinian stores in the Hebron market. Two thousand policemen and soldiers have been allocated to evacuate both spots but the defense establishment, officials said, had yet to decide whether they would be evacuated simultaneously or on different days. The evacuations had originally been scheduled to begin at the end of next week after the settlers succeeded in obtaining a postponement by the High Court of Justice, which had scheduled a hearing for next Wednesday. Head of the Binyamin Regional Council Pinhas Wallerstein rejected army assumptions that settlers planned to violently resist the evacuation. "We hope the court will accept our petition," the veteran settler leader said. "But if the petition is rejected we will fight this decree in any legitimate way we can." Ariel Kahana, a resident of Amona, said the community asked Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to intervene on its behalf but he refused. "We have tried every way to delay the evacuation," Kahana said, expressing hope that the court would accept the petition during Wednesday's hearing. "One thing is for sure. If the army comes they won't find us dancing to meet them." Amona was established in 1996 and is home to some 30 families who live in caravans. In November, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, following an order by the High Court of Justice, pledged to demolish by January 2006 nine new permanent homes built in the outpost, which were until this week unoccupied. The settlers claimed they had permission to build the homes but in a government report released last March by attorney Talia Sasson, Amona was listed as one of 61 outposts built on unauthorized land. Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.