The Israeli army decided to evacuate an illegal settlement outpost in the center of the Old City of Hebron by the end of 2005.

An Israeli source reported that the army intends to evacuate 15 settler families who occupied several Palestinian homes in the Old City.

Maariv Israeli daily said that the evacuation of these families is not related to the disengagement plan. 

At least 500 settlers are currently living in the center of Hebron. The settlers carried repeated attacks against the residents, which forced dozens of residents to keep their stores closed in the area since the beginning of the Intifada.

The army evacuated the stores, barring the residents from using them, and closed them until further notice. 

Maariv reported that the army cannot “protect the settlers” if the Palestinian stores remained open. Settler families came to the area and controlled several buildings after the stores were closed.

The settlers claim that they own the evacuating stores and the surrounding buildings.

An Israeli military source reported that the army did not evacuate the settlers in order to avoid confrontations with them; the source claimed that the evacuation of the illegal outposts requires a direct order from the Israeli Defense Minister, Shaul Mofaz.

The owners of the stores appealed to the Israeli High Court of Justice, but the prosecution said that Israel intends to evacuate the settlers without setting any date for the evacuation.