Israeli security forces evicted dozens of Jewish settlers on Wednesday from a building that they illegally took over in a combustible West Bank city, police said.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said security forces met no resistance during the operation.

The eviction took Israelis by surprise, because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had blocked an eviction order requiring the settlers to leave the house just a day earlier.

The order had threatened to touch off a violent confrontation between security forces and the militant settler community in Hebron.

The biblical city is home to the traditional burial site of Abraham, the shared patriarch of both Jews and Muslims, and the only place where Jews live in the heart of a West Bank city. It has been a focus of Israeli-Arab violence for decades.

About 850 settlers now live in Hebron in heavily guarded enclaves among 180,000 Palestinians. Hundreds of Israeli soldiers enforce a rigid separation between the two sides.

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