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Jewish Settlers Re-Occupy Illegal Outposts - 2002-10-11

Jewish settlers in the West Bank Friday re-occupied one of the illegal outposts dismantled by the Israeli army earlier this week. The move is the first sign of active resistance to a campaign by the Israeli government to remove all Jewish settlements built without government approval.

Jewish settlers returned Friday to an outpost near the West Bank city of Nablus that had been evacuated by Israeli soldiers the day before.

The outpost, Beit Hanotzrim, was the only one of the eight settlements dismantled by the army on Thursday that was inhabited.

Twelve such outposts, most of them consisting of a small number of trailers, have been removed this week. Six were taken down by the settlers themselves.

Israel's defense minister, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, has ordered the army to move against a total of 24 outposts built without government approval.

Jewish settler leaders have opposed the government plan, saying it amounts to a reward for Palestinian terrorism.

The re-occupation of Beit Hanotzrim came one day after an Israeli woman was killed and scores more injured in a Palestinian suicide bombing in Tel Aviv.

Hamas, the Islamic Resistance Movement, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Meanwhile, in an effort to end clashes between Hamas supporters and Palestinian police, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has dispatched senior members of his security forces in the West Bank to the Gaza Strip to help restore calm.

Thousands of police and armed members of Mr. Arafat's Fatah faction participated in the funeral in Gaza on Thursday of a police commander killed by suspected Hamas activists.

An 18-year-old Hamas supporter died Thursday of wounds sustained during fighting with Palestinian police on Monday. His death brought to five the number of Hamas activists killed this week in clashes with Palestinian police.