Settlers seal Amona structures

Meant as a compromise to prevent the scheduled evacuation of the outpost.

amona aerial view 248.88 (photo credit: Peace Now)
amona aerial view 248.88
(photo credit: Peace Now)
Leaders of the Council of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza (Yesha) and Binyamin regional council on Wednesday morning sealed off the nine permanent structures in Amona in an attempt to prevent the outpost's scheduled evacuation. "We are interested in preventing unnecessary violence," the Yesha Council stated, referring to the weeklong clashes that erupted in Hebron some two weeks ago. According to the settlers, the sealing of the buildings was meant to prevent their inhabitation, thereby preventing the need to raze them. However, the Yesha Council accused Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of being "determined to go to war despite compromises that have been put on his desk and are acceptable to both the settlers and the IDF." The settlers also intended on submitting a petition to the High Court of Justice later in the day, asking it to rule against the evacuation. Halutz vowed to have the illegal outpost cleared by next week, and have the Hebron wholesale market evacuated by February 15, Chief of Staff Maj.-Gen. Dan Halutz confirmed Tuesday. In 2003, Israel committed to removing settler outposts in Judea and Samaria in accordance with the road map plan. The commitment was reiterated on Tuesday evening in Olmert's speech at the sixth annual Herzliya Conference. Speaking to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Halutz estimated that 1,500 policemen would be deployed to empty the nine buildings in Amona, while thousands of soldiers would form second and third rings surrounding the areas to be evacuated. "The evacuation will be structured much like the withdrawals from Gaza in August," said Halutz. Right-wing MKs at the meeting expressed anger over the planned evacuation, asking whether the soldiers in the second and third rings would be forced to "stand in Jerusalem or Petah Tikva." "Halutz must lay out the risks in carrying out the disengagement and not to nod in agreement to every statement made by the government," said MK Uri Ariel (National Union). "We can see what happens after disengagement now - Kassam fire in Gaza." MK Effi Eitam (National Union) said it would be inappropriate to evacuate Hebron with so few ministers in the government, as a true consensus had not been reached. He proposed delaying the plan until after the elections at the end of March. Yesha called on Halutz to ignore orders to evacuate Amona and the Hebron marketplace. "Olmert should sit down with the settlers and try and reach a compromise instead of sparking unnecessary violent clashes," the council said in a statement. Yesha Council members said the decision to clear the outposts was "purely political," while Amona residents prepared to petition the High Court of Justice Wednesday against the evacuation. Ariel Kahane - a resident of Amona - accused the government of "pushing the settlers up against a wall" - a move that he said would draw "unfortunate consequences." "The decision to demolish the homes in Amona is draconic and irreversible," Kahane said. "The government is moving quickly... and will be held responsible for the results of its actions."