The illegal outpost of Amona was established during the latter half of the 1990s.It is one of the biggest of its kind and is typical of over a hundred similar communities.
Lying within a kilometre of the settlement of Ofra which is considered legal under Israeli law, Amona began like so many others – a collection of mobile homes, taking settlers evacuated from one dismantelled outpost to set up a new one elsewhere.
Since 2004, thirty families have made Amona their home, begining to build more permanent houses despite the drawing up of the road map for peace.
According to figures compiled by humanitarian groups,the number of illegal outposts has doubled since Prime mMinister Ariel Sharon came to power. Today, there are 102 in the West Bank, 33 of which have permanent housing either built or under construction.
Due to domestic and international criticism of the continued establishment and expansion of the outposts, lawyer, Talia Sasson was asked by Sharon to report on the situtation.Last year, she concluded that regional coucils were flouting the law and allowing the theft of private Palestinian land, supporting the illegal appropriation by Israeli settlers.
In response, Sharon promised to cut government funding to the guilty councils.But the outposts keep appearing.One of the ways is via the construction of electricity pumping stations or mobile phone masts.The Israeli military is sent to protect the station, establishing a guard-post,and then mobile homes for the guards to live in soon follow.In only a matter of days after that settlers move in .. who in turn quickly establish a small community.
The whole issue is fast becoming a major tustle between the Israeli government and the settlers,butwith the central government policy being unclear.While subscribing to the road map for peace and the withdrawal of some settlements, those outposts near the israeli security barrier being built through the west bank have been recently fortified.
To date 240 thousand Israeli settlers, live in the West Bank, home to two-and-a-half million Palestinians.