Gaza Settlers Plan to Lock IDF Out to Stymie Evacuation

Settler leaders intend to close the gates of the settlements to keep out soldiers and police who are handing out eviction orders.

Residents from the whole of Gush Katif met last night in Neveh Dekalim, where settler leaders explained to them the expected scenario for the week to come and handed out instructions on how to continue the fight against the disengagement.

The leaders intend to close the gates of the settlements tomorrow morning to keep out the soldiers and police officers who are charged with handing out the eviction orders to residents.

Thousands of people who have remained in the region illegally will fan out to the settlements to guard the gates.

"The army is counting on our leaving on Monday [tomorrow] and Tuesday," said Rafi Sari, head of the Gush Katif Action Committee. "That stage is really important to them, but we're not cooperating. We won't leave and we won't make it easy for them," Sari said.

Sari told his audience that if they had objects of sentimental value they should get them out of Gush Katif before tomorrow night.

Residents who wanted to get their cars out of the Gush so they can use them after the disengagement could do so, he told them, but it would be better not to since any photos of lines of cars leaving would seem misleading if they appeared in the press.

The leaders decided not to tell people how to react when officers came to evacuate them, except to stress that no physical or verbal violence should be used.

Right-wing organizations have been stepping up pressure on police officers and soldiers to disobey orders to implement the disengagement.

Starting today the police will be operating on its highest alert level. Since only about 8,000 officers out of the normal staffing level of 28,000 will be available to deal with matters not associated with the disengagement operation, the police will focus on responding to life-or-death cases and cases where violence is involved.

The schedule of interrogations and offensive operations will also be severely disrupted as a result of the temporary shift in personnel allocations.

Police Chief Moshe Karadi announced yesterday that calls to the police emergency number (100) will not be affected by the disengagement, but police sources told reporters that a rise in crime within Israel can be expected.

Some 10,000 police officers are scheduled to take part in the actual evacuation of residents from the Gaza Strip, while another 4,000 will be available to respond to events on the ground. Some of these will be flown in by helicopter, if needed, to provide additional backup.

Beginning this afternoon, the police will erect roadblocks throughout the western Negev, from Ashkelon and the Castina junction southward, which will check all vehicles headed toward Gush Katif and the south. Their objective is to prevent anti-disengagement activists from reaching the Kissufim crossing and nearby settlements, where demonstrations are expected.

The roadblocks are part of the sixth "ring" of security, which the police is responsible for, in the areas within the Green Line near Gush Katif. Police sources yesterday said these roadblocks are likely to cause major traffic jams throughout the area.