Seven young girls - all minors - have been in prison for nearly two weeks after they were arrested trying to sneak in to northern Shomron in an effort to protest the expulsion. The State has offered to release them to town or house arrest, but the girls have refused. "I will not agree to be banned from any place in the Land of Israel," said one.

The State is also against their release. Its representatives submitted a memo in the course of the last hearing, explaining why they consider the girls dangerous to future government plans. The memo states that because the State plans to "deal" with outposts in Judea and Samaria, the girls must remain in jail.

Dismantling the outposts is not something that will gain Prime Minister Ariel Sharon many points within the Likud Central Committee, where he is trying to be re-elected as party chairman. For this reason, it is not expected that Sharon will order the destruction of any outposts in the coming weeks. In addition, demolition notices must be sent to the residents at least a month in advance, from a legal standpoint.

Residents are not complacent, however. "The government does not work according to the law," one said.

New residents and even families have continued moving in to the outposts, says Itzik Sandroi. He is one of the founders of the southern hilltop outpost east of Yitzhar in the Shomron. Three families now live there, as well as several youths and bachelors. The site has been government-destroyed twice - and built up three times.

The Sabbath atmosphere at the Yitzhar outpost is very special, Sandroi says, and the youths have set times for morning and evening classes. "Many of them come from religious-Zionist families," he explains, 'but have experienced hard times on their way here - whether it be lack of attention at home, inability to function in school, and the like. One of them told me he was on the verge of despair, but decided to check out the 'hilltops' before giving up and joining some type of street gang... They do not accept Zionism or the holiness of the State; they see the integrity of the Land in a spiritual manner, combined with keeping and studying the Torah."

Not every threatened outpost is populated so heavily by "hilltop youths." Migron, for instance, near Psagot on the Ofrah-Jerusalem highway, has 43 families. Demand to move in was great until the government clamped down on further growth some two years ago.

Just to the north of Migron, on the turnoff to Beit El, lies Givat Assaf, with some 15 families. An attempt to evacuate it last year resulted in the turnout of many hundreds of supporters of Givat Assaf from nearby towns, and the army was forced to give up its plans. Residents there have no illusions, however, and are continually on the alert.