Remaining Two Families Leave Homes in Settlement of Ganei Tal

IDF, settlers agree to postpone Neveh Dekalim evacuation to Thurs.

Security forces have completed the evacuation of the Gush Katif settlement of Ganei Tal late Wednesday night after the last two families agreed to leave their homes.

Overall responsibility for the settlement has been transferred to the Israel Defense Forces.

Police and IDF troops have thus far evacuated 533 homes and 1,523 residents. The settlers were placed on 51 buses which exited the region.

Police SWAT team units are en route to the Gaza Strip settlement of Kfar Darom to begin the process of removing anti-pullout infiltrators, it was announced on the public address loudspeakers Wednesday night.

The evacuation of Neveh Dekalim came to a temporary halt on Wednesday evening and will resume Thursday morning. About 100 families remained in the settlement, along with numerous infiltrators.

After dozens of officers from the special police Yasam patrol unit advanced on the Neveh Dekalim synagogue and surrounded it in preparation for evacuation, it was decided the operation would be postponed until Thursday.

During the course of the afternoon Wednesday, Israel Defense Forces officials were hammering out a deal with Neveh Dekalim leaders, as clashes between protesters and troops continued.

In Neveh Dekalim, sixty families are remaining to be evacuated as of late Wednesday.

In a related development, members of the Chabad movement who had infiltrated Neveh Dekalim and entrenched themselves in the bomb shelter of a girl's seminary demanded that the evacuating forces wrap themselves with tefillin (Jewish prayer phylacteries).

They also demanded that the IDF release Avi Bieber, the soldier who was arrested last month when he refused to follow orders to demolish buildings in preparation for the disengagement. The IDF passed responsibility for negotiations with the barricaded Chabad members to Colonel Amos Ben Avraham.

Around 2 P.M., Labor MK Matan Vilnai was hit on his head by an egg thrown by a pullout opponent while he was visiting Neveh Dekalim.

Earlier in the day, security forces encountered violent resistance from settlers and pullout opponents who had infiltrated the Gaza Strip.

Police arrested about 60 protesters, most of whom do not live in Gush Katif, and sent them out of Neveh Dekalim, the largest Gaza settlement, on buses.

Hundreds of troops grabbed settlers and pushed them into buses. Police scuffled with a large crowd, as the smoke from burning garbage rose into the air. Protesters fought with police officers and threw eggs and water bottles at them. One family pushed soldiers out of their home and began breaking down the house with a hammer.

One young woman shouted, "I don't want to, I don't want to," as she was carried out of a house in Neveh Dekalim.

However, students of the Torat Haim yeshiva in Neveh Dekalim, which had been expected to be a center of opposition to security forces, were packing when the troops arrived. About 210 of the 470 families in Neveh Dekalim had already left by midnight Tuesday.

The more than 15,000 police officers and soldiers deployed in Gush Katif also marched into the Gaza settlements of Ganei Tal, Bedolah and Tel Katifa to begin the forced evacuation.

Security forces entered the settlement of Bedolah in the morning and made their way into the synagogue, where residents had barricaded themselves. By noon, all the residents except one woman had left on their own.

Ganei Tal residents were trying to convince security forces Wednesday not to implement the evacuation, but they have all agreed to leave the area on their own between 1 P.M. and 3 P.M. Wednesday.

Tel Katifa residents apparently reached an agreement with the army to leave the settlement in an orderly convoy, the army said.

The army is allowing those settlers who don't clash with the security forces to leave the settlements in their own cars.

PM aide: Settlements could be evacuated within 48 hoursA senior aide to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said early Wednesday that all or nearly all of the 21 Gaza Strip settlements could be evacuated within 48 hours, declaring that the opposition to the disengagement has failed.

The IDF Southern Command and the Disengagement Administration said that more than half the settlers in Gaza - 832 families out of the 1,550 registered as residents - had left their homes by midnight Tuesday, the deadline after which the IDF has announced it will use force against those who refuse to leave.

Asked if pullout officials now believed the overall evacuation could be complete within two days, Eival Giladi, Prime Minister's Office chief of coordination and strategy, told Army Radio:

"It is a feasible assessment. It is not an an accessment that we have accepted as a formal assessment. I don't want to fix a certain time. Our approach is that there is time."

According to Giladi, apparently referring to prior predictions that resistance to evacuation would be accompanied by spasms of violence, "The greatest success of the leaders of the opposition is that the opposition has failed.

"In the future, I believe that the fact that the opposition reached a certain level and then flagged, will be seen as a success and not a failure."

Several settlements have been totally or nearly totally evacuated. Bedolah and Pe'at Sadeh have emptied out, and there are only a few families left in Slav, Rafiah Yam, Kfar Yam and Gadid.

Of the three northern Gaza settlements, there are 15 (out of an original 74) families still in Elei Sinai, and Nisanit and Dugit have been totally evacuated, according to the Disengagement Administration. The IDF does not plan to exert much effort to complete the evacuation of Elei Sinai.