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The Israel Defense Forces and police returned to Havat Gilad before dawn yesterday to evacuate a group of about 20 settlers from the controversial outpost, but hours later, dozens of settlers returned to the site and began rebuilding several structures destroyed by the IDF during the operation.

Yesterday marked the third attempt in recent weeks to evacuate the West Bank outpost. A large contingent of security forces assembled at the spot around 3 A.M. and - unlike the previous attempts - no advance notice about the operation had reached the settlers.

In order to maintain secrecy, the infantry soldiers who participated in the evacuation duty were originally told that they were being mobilized to hunt down a Hamas cell in the Nablus area. The soldiers were informed about their real mission only an hour before it began.

The settlers this time did not resist the evacuation. (During a previous evacuation operation 11 days ago, some 1,000 settlers clashed with soldiers and police in a bid to forcibly prevent the dismantling of the outpost and dozens were injured.) Within an hour, the troops had taken down the settlers' tents and destroyed several containers that were set up since the last evacuation.

Several hours later, however, the settlers had already set up a new tent. Roadblocks were set up by the IDF to prevent them from bringing new containers to the outpost.

Teenagers from nearby Jewish settlements circumvented these roadblocks by foot and began rebuilding the temporary structures at the outpost, including a stone structure.

Eitai Zar, who has been living with his wife and two children at Havat Gilad during the past year, galloped near the site on his horse, while the children of Hagar Zar played nearby. (Hagar is the widow of Gilad Zar, who was killed during the intifada and for whom the outpost is named.)

Other members of the Zar family, including Gilad's parents Moshe and Yael Zar, also assembled at the outpost and vowed to continue to return to this spot again and again.

One member of the Zar family, Hebron resident Anat Cohen, received a court order yesterday to keep away from Havat Gilad for three months because of her participation in the clashes during the previous evacuation operation. She announced that she rejects the court order and would prefer to go to prison.

Settler leader Daniella Weiss from Kedumim came later in the morning and spoke about the right to fight for the land of Israel. "Your fight here has great value - educational and practical value," she declared.