JERUSALEM (Mar. 2)
Army units succeeded late today in removing most of a group of more than 50 illegal settlers from a West Bank site after day-long efforts to persuade them to leave on their own brought no results. The would-be settlers, members of the militant Gush Emunim movement, offered only passive resistance as they were placed aboard buses which re turned them to Jerusalem. A small contingent was allowed to remain at the site overnight to guard their equipment which included prefabricated huts, a water tower and electric generator.
The site they occupied is at Maale Adumim on the Jerusalem-Jericho road, where the government plans to build an industrial zone and workers’ housing to serve the Jerusalem region. The project, the first of its kind in the administered territories, has been the subject of bitter controversy in Israel. It came up at today’s Cabinet meeting where Premier Yitzhak Rabin stressed that the project will include housing units for employes and their families but that “partisan” settlement attempts in defiance of the government’s authority would not be permitted.
The Gush Emunim activists managed to slip by police and army patrols before dawn today and established themselves on the site. They were joined later by a number of women and children who evaded roadblocks. Military authorities said the whole operation was carried out in secrecy and with precision.
After their return to Jerusalem tonight, a delegation of the Gush Emunim met with Housing Minister Avraham Ofer and Minister of Commerce Halm Barlev whose ministries are responsible for the Maale Adumim development. The two ministers reportedly stressed that the project was intended as an industrial estate, not a regular settlement. They advised the settlers group to apply to the Housing Ministry for homes on the site when the time came.