Police evacuate Israeli houses judged to be on Palestinian land

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Hundreds of Israeli police officers evacuated three of nine homes slated to be demolished in a West Bank settlement.

The Supreme Court had decided that the homes on the outskirts of the settlement of Ofra should be demolished because they were illegally built on private Palestinian land.

"The evacuation of the nine homes has begun, in accordance with the high court order", said Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri, who asked the settlers for respect and responsibility during removal.

Israeli troops entered the settlement at around 09:00 a.m. local time (0600 GMT) Tuesday commencing operations to evict residents and clear protesters ahead of demolitions.

Some minor clashes were reported between officers and younger protesters. The evictions were carried out a week ahead of the March 5 deadline set by the court. The court rejected last minute petitions to halt the demolition or have the buildings sealed off.

Israeli police standing ready to evacuate the settlement of Ofra.

There was little initial sign of the kind of violence that accompanied a larger-scale evacuation on February 2 of Amona, a West Bank settlement-outpost built without Israeli government permission in 1995.

More than 400,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank since Israel occupied the territory since the Six-Day War in 1967.

Palestinians wanting to establish a state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip say the settlements could deny them a viable country.

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