Seven settlements to be abandoned by the end of the day; Stiff resistance in southern Gaza Strip
The Israeli army commenced the implementation of the withdrawal plan Monday morning, as teams of soldiers entered the northern Gaza Strip settlement of Nissanit to present eviction notices, which will go into effect early Wednesday. If settlers ignore the deadline, they will be removed by force and could lose up to a third of their government compensation for the move.
"It's a painful and difficult day, but it's a historic day," said Israel's defense minister, Shaul Mofaz, according to The AP. Over the next three weeks, Israel plans to remove all 21 Jewish settlements from Gaza and four from the West Bank. Police estimated that 300 families will leave the Gaza Strip on Monday and that seven settlements in northern Gaza Strip will be vacated of their Israeli residents. The operation went quite smoothly in the settlements of Nissanit and Elei Sinai that have virtually emptied out. In the West Bank, two settlements - Ganim and Kadim - are also expected to be vacated by the end of the day.
Settlers in southern Gaza Strip and West Bank enclaves, meanwhile, blocked the entrances to their settlements to prevent Israeli troops and reporters from entering. Some 400 youths opposed to the pullout blocked the main road leading into "Gush Katif" settlement bloc on Monday morning, preventing an army convoy from reaching its destination. Hundreds of settlers blocked the gates of Neve Dekalim, Gaza Strip's largest settlement, preventing the forces from entering. As of Monday afternoon Israeli policemen and soldiers avoided confrontation with the settlers.
The army and police have decided not to deliver eviction orders to five Gaza Strip settlements, following requests by their residents, Haaretz reported. Therefore, soldiers will not enter Monday morning the settlements of Netzarim, Kfar Darom, Azmona, Katif and Dugit.
On Sunday night, settlers clashed with Israeli troops near the northern West Bank settlements of Sa-Nur and Shavei Shomron. Sa-Nur is one of the four settlements in the northern West Bank to be evacuated along with all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip.
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