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Israeli Troops Dismantle Hebron Outpost - 2002-12-19

Israeli troops have dismantled an outpost built by settlers in Hebron, on the site of a November ambush in which 12 Israeli soldiers and security officers were killed. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers and police began the eviction, early Thursday morning. The collection of temporary buildings was set up last month, at the spot where nine soldiers and three civilian security officers were killed in an ambush by Palestinian gunmen.

Some 200 settlers, including several dozen who arrived, Wednesday night, to reinforce those who occupied the temporary dwellings, were evicted. Security forces arrested three of them on suspicion of assaulting soldiers. However, most of the resistance was peaceful.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz had announced the outpost was to be dismantled because it had been built illegally on privately-owned Palestinian land. The Israeli Military Command had been meeting with settler leaders, over the past few days, in an effort to convince them to evacuate the area peacefully. The settlers moved in the day after the November ambush, erecting tents and temporary buildings along a road in the narrow valley that leads between Kiryat Arba and Hebron.

Settlers in Kiryat Arba routinely walk along the road on Friday evenings, on their way to and from prayers at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron. They have been demanding that Israel continue destroying the homes of Palestinians in the area and create a secure corridor there.

Israeli security officials countered by setting up a military post in the area.

Israeli troops in the West Bank town, Tulkarem, demolished the family home of Sirhan Sirhan -- a man they say was behind an attack on an Israeli communal farm, last month. The man's father was arrested.