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The number of outposts removed and the number set up in the last few days are more or less the same. According to the army, 10 settlement points were dismantled. According to the settlers, about the same number were re-established, some in the same places where they were dismantled, but mostly in new locations. These numbers, like the physical clashes that erupted during some of the evacuations, are both shameful and embarrassing.

It is shameful that an Israeli government has announced to the world that it has adopted a policy of getting rid of "unauthorized" outposts - but in effect allows a group of civilians to make a mockery of its stated policies. It is embarrassing that the IDF can not successfully implement the government's publicly declared policy in a determined and efficient manner.

There is no understanding, and certainly no acceptance, for a commander to declare a place a closed military area, and then not enforce the order. How can teenage boys and girls circumvent checkpoints put up by the army doing whatever they want inside a closed military area? The weakness shown by the politicians, the army, and the police is a serious blow to the strength of democracy in the country.

Those maliciously increasing the dangers and damage are the official leaders of the settlement camp. It's not "hilltop youth," the wild and rebellious teens supposedly on the fringes of the community, when the settlers' representative council helps transport the youths from one site to another to reinforce those clashing with soldiers and police.

The settlers' council spokesmen cloak themselves with claims of seemingly democratic rights - the right to protest, the right to passively resist a government's action to which they are opposed. But in effect, through its actions and the encouragement it gave to others, the council went beyond the limits of what is democratically acceptable.

The Yesha Council's behavior now borders on sedition. Its rabbis, or at least some of the more high-profile rabbis among them, flagrantly crossed the line. Rabbi Dov Lior from Hebron, the chairman of the Yesha Rabbi's Council, last week explicitly called for population transfer. In a halakhic ruling, he said "the right of return of Arabs to Arab countries" should be allowed. His followers explained that he didn't mean only the Palestinian residents of the territories, but also Arab citizens of Israel. All must find themselves a place outside the borders of the Promised Land.

Another important rabbi in settler circles, Eliezer Melamed from Bracha, recently issued a ruling annulling any government attempt to evict a Jew from anywhere in the country because of a political agreement. His father, Rabbi Zalman Melamed, called on army generals to refuse orders to evacuate settlements. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a much-admired Torah scholar from Beit El went so far as to rule that the establishment of a Palestinian state is tantamount to "the government declaring war on the people."

From all this, it is clear that in the eyes of these people the difference is blurring between a Biblical theocratic state and a contemporary, corporeal State of Israel, which now must take care in its political steps. Fanatic passions now threaten to take these people over the edge, and with them, the tens of thousands who are under their influence.