The government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has reportedly ordered the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to withdraw protection of some 50 Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria, the so-called "West Bank" that the Palestinian Arabs claim as their own sovereign territory.
According to Israel National News, security in 40 of the towns will be turned over to private firms, while another 10 will be left completely undefended.
The news follows reports last month that the IDF, acting on government orders, had begun collecting weapons previously issued to Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria for protection against Palestinian terrorist attacks.
Right-wing Israeli lawmaker Aryeh Eldad said in an interview with Israel National Radio that the recent government decisions appear to be a coordinated effort to drive Jews out of the areas Olmert intends to surrender to the Palestinians by making life there untenable.
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