Israel has decided to use its top counter-insurgency units in the effort to destroy a tiny Jewish neighborhood in the West Bank.
Security sources said acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has approved a proposal for the deployment of army and police commandos to expel and dismantle an unauthorized Jewish neighborhood in Hebron. The sources said the commandos would be employed to overcome what was expected to be fierce Jewish resistance.
“The decision reflected the priority of the government over the next two weeks,” a security source said. “The government has based its credibility on the destruction of this illegal outpost.”
The disputed Jewish neighborhood in Hebron has been comprised of apartments and storefronts abandoned by Palestinians. Eight Jewish families live in the storefronts at the edge of Arab market in the West Bank city.
Israel’s Supreme Court has accepted the claim that the storefronts were purchased by Jews before the British expulsion of the Hebron Jewish community in 1929. But the court, citing the absence of Israeli government permission, insisted that the Jewish residents leave until the issue could be resolved.
The sources said several Israeli elite units have been recruited to evict the Jewish residents. One police unit was identified as Yamam, the Hebrew acronym for Special Operations Unit and usually reserved for counter-insurgency and hostage rescue missions.
The elite units were mobilized amid increasing Jewish unrest in Hebron. Officials said Jewish youngsters have hurled rocks and paint toward Israeli police cars and torched Arab apartments to protest the evacuation order, which takes effect on Sunday.
On Saturday, several hundred Jews clashed with police and soldiers throughout Hebron. There were reports of arrests and injuries.
In a related development, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has ordered the dismantling of three unauthorized Jewish outposts around the northern West Bank city of Nablus. Mofaz said the outposts were involved in the uprooting of olive trees in nearby Palestinian orchards. No arrests have been reported.
This was published by Middle East News Line on their January 15th, 2006 issue