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Israeli military takes over contested West Bank settlement complex slated for destruction


JERUSALEM — Israeli troops moved on Tuesday into a contested West Bank settlement housing complex ahead of its scheduled demolition, the military said.

The military said troops took over the under-construction complex inside the Beit El settlement overnight to remove protesters that had holed themselves up inside. Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at the scene and confronted the security forces. Protesters scuffled with the security forces throughout the day.

Israel's Supreme Court has given the government until Thursday to dismantle the complex, which was built illegally.

The government says it will fight the ruling and is making efforts to legalize the complex. The military says it will hold its position and await orders on how to proceed.

Hard-line ministers criticized the defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, for deploying the military.

Tempers are high among some in the settler community as it marks a decade since Israel's "disengagement" from the Gaza Strip, when Israel in the summer of 2005 withdrew all its civilians and soldiers from all of the settlements in the coastal territory.

Also Tuesday, scores of Israelis entered one of the two West Bank settlements that Israel also withdrew from at the time. They told Israeli media they want to stay as long as possible in Sa-Nur until Israel removes them.

"We are returning," Itzik Amitail told channel 10. "We have been waiting for 10 years and now it's time to go back home."

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