Eight illegal settlement outposts were removed yesterday, bringing the total number of outposts dismantled this week to 12.
However, only one of those removed to date has been inhabited. In total, settler leaders said, five of the 24 outposts that Defense Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer has ordered evacuated are inhabited.
Of the outposts removed yesterday, six of them - all uninhabited - were taken down by the settlers themselves. These included a caravan stationed at the British Police Junction in Wadi Haramiyeh; Tank Hill in Itamar; a water tank in Bracha; two containers in Avnei Hefetz West; a caravan in Einav South; and two caravans in the Kiryat Arba industrial zone.
The other two were removed by the Israel Defense Forces, including the only inhabited one - Beit Hanotzrim, located near Har Bracha in the Nablus area, which consisted of a few containers manned by three men. The residents did not oppose the evacuation, even though an earlier attempt to evacuate the outpost a few weeks ago had elicited strong opposition.
The IDF also evacuated two caravans and a bus from Havat Maon, south of Hebron, again without opposition. This outpost, dismantled by the Barak government with great fanfare in 1999, had since been reestablished. Though the Defense Ministry claimed that Havat Maon was also inhabited, the settlers denied this.
The other four manned outposts are reportedly due to be evacuated this weekend. They are Givat Assaf (near Beit El), Havat Gilad (built on privately owned Jewish land south of Nablus), Mitzpeh Eshtamoa (south of Hebron), and Hill 762 (near Eli).
The other unmanned outposts on Ben-Eliezer's list, of which four were removed earlier this week, are the following: a trailer in Shararit, a few mobile homes in Ma'ahaz Gilad, two containers west of Zayit Ra'anan; a hut and a gate in Shvut Rachel East; two containers in Keidar North; a container in Amuna East; a refurbished bus near Susya; two caravans and a container in the South Hebron Hills; a container in Karmei Tzur South; four empty caravans in Beit El North; a container and a tower in Elon Moreh South; and Revava Northwest.
Some of these outposts were deliberately set up by the settlers to serve as "sacrificial lambs" that could be dismantled painlessly should Ben-Eliezer decide to take action on the matter. Others, however, had been slated to become populated settlements in every respect, and the settlers' Yesha Council said their removal will be a real blow.
Council heads met yesterday with residents of two manned outposts slated for evacuation - Havat Gilad and Givat Assaf - to discuss what types of resistance should be employed. Violent resistance was unacceptable, the council stressed, but passive resistance should be used. Residents of neighboring settlements will be brought in to beef up the resistance efforts.
Council members also continued lobbying the cabinet yesterday in an effort to get the evacuations halted, but privately admitted they did not expect any success.