Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Kadima Party has named interim Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as its acting chairman to lead the party into March 28 elections.

A Kadima Party statement Monday says the decision was taken because of Mr. Sharon's medical condition. The 77-year-old leader remains in a coma after suffering a massive stroke on January 4.

In another development, Israel has sent security forces to the West Bank town of Hebron following a riot by Jewish settlers protesting an eviction order for eight settler families who occupied Palestinian homes four years ago.

One Israeli soldier was wounded in the violence Saturday - the last day the families were to be allowed to leave without eviction by force.

About 400 settlers live in Hebron which has a Palestinian population of around 120,000.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.