Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz decided, on Thursday, to postpone the evacuation of the illegal settlement outpost of Amouna, north of the West Bank, for another two weeks, Israeli online daily Haaretz reported.
Mofaz stated that his decision was made due to a petition to the High Court of Justice filed by the residents of the illegal outpost, which the court has agreed to hear next Wednesday, and the Palestinian Authority elections, which are scheduled for January 25.
The decision to delay the illegal outpost comes two days after the settlers clashed with soldiers and policemen who arrive there to hand them the evacuation orders.
On Wednesday, four Israeli police officers and 11 settlers were lightly injured, during the clashes at the illegal outpost after soldiers, along with Civil Administration inspectors, raided the outpost area while settlers were placing the building foundations, and planning for further constructions.
Haaretz added that some 150 right-wing settlers were waiting at Neveh Daniel North illegal outpost as the soldiers arrived; five settlers were arrested after paint was thrown at a military bulldozer.
Violent clashes are expected during the actual implementation of the evacuation orders.
It is worth mentioning that the Yesha Council of Settlements and Binyamin Regional Council are planning to relocate to buildings slated for demolition.
Settler leaders are planning a fierce protest against the plan to demolish the nine buildings in the illegal outpost.
Attorney Talia Sasson prepared a report on illegal outposts, and presented it to the Israeli government in March 2005. The report stated that Ammouna had been built on private Palestinian land.
Initially, Israel officially said that it is committed to demolish buildings at the outpost by the end of January 2006; the implementation is yet to be examined.
Settlers of several illegal outposts in the West Bank started moving on Wednesday into the illegal buildings at the outpost.
Settler representative at the illegal outpost said that this is only the first step, and that they are "determined" to prevent the demolition of their outpost.
An Israeli source reported that the Settlements Council in the West Bank and Regional Council have moved their offices to the constructions in the outpost.
The buildings used as offices there are also slated to be demolished.
Moreover, Mofaz ordered the dismantling of three Nablus-area outposts – the Aroussi Farm near Bracha settlement, the Skelly Farm near Elon Moreh and Hill 725 near Yitzhar – to proceed.
A few dozen settlers live in these three outposts, and the evacuations will probably take place next week.
Associates of Mofaz said that he is particularly anxious to move against the three Nablus-area outposts, because many Palestinian olive trees in their vicinity have been vandalized by the settlers, and the government has decided to crack down on the vandals.
The Israeli police allocated a large force for the evacuation of the illegal outposts since violence by the extremist settlers there, is the most likely scenario, especially after they declared that they will use force, and resist more strongly than they resisted the disengagement.
Police said they were pleased to have been allowed to use tear gas while evacuating another outpost, in Gush Etzion, earlier this week, and expect to use it in other evacuations as well.
Meanwhile, the Yesha Council of settlements accused the Israeli government of "discrimination" for focusing on illegal settlement construction while ignoring illegal building by Arabs.
According to Interior Ministry documents, it said, Arabs built 30,444 illegal structures inside Israel in 2003-2004, but very few were destroyed, while civil administration documents show that 7,389 demolition orders against illegal Palestinian buildings in the West Bank were never carried out.
The constructions by the Palestinian residents were carried out on private lands they own.