Several settlements refuse to accept evacuation orders
Attempts yesterday by the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police to distribute evacuation orders to the Gush Katif residents were hampered when settlers closed the gates to their communities. A number of violent clashes between demonstrators and security forces were reported.
All in all, some 100 families left Gush Katif yesterday, with hundreds more slated to do so today. Evacuation by force will begin tomorrow.
Hundreds of security forces arrived yesterday morning at the gates of the Gush Katif settlements to hand out evacuation orders instructing residents to leave the Gaza Strip. In keeping with a decision of the Gush Katif anti-disengagement campaign headquarters, however, residents of Neveh Dekalim, Ganei Tal, Kfar Darom, Netzer Hazani and Morag closed the gates to their communities and erected additional obstacles to prevent the security forces from entering the settlements. Residents of Shirat Hayam, Kerem Atzmona and Tal Katifa also refused to allow the security forces to hand out the orders.
Orders were distributed to residents of Netzarim, Katif and Atzmona after IDF officers and community leaders struck a compromise under which the security forces did not enter the settlements but handed over the orders to the secretariats of the communities.
The security forces did not meet resistance at the entrances to the settlements in the north of the Strip - Nisanit, Elei Sinai and Dugit. Evacuation orders were also distributed without problems to the residents of Shalev, Rafah Yam and Pe'at Sadeh.
The encounter between the security forces and the Gush Katif residents was a highly charged affair. Arik Harpaz, an Elei Sinai resident, for example, tore up the order he received in the face of the soldiers. "You are no longer my army; as far as I am concerned, you are like the U.S. Army," he said to the security forces.
In recent days, the Gush Katif leadership appears to have lost control over thousands of youths currently in the area. Late Sunday night, for example, after youths headed off an IDF jeep at the entrance to Neveh Dekalim, violent clashes broke out between extremists and moderates among the anti-pullout demonstrators. The clashes broke out after one of the demonstrators attacked Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, a leading rabbi from the religious Zionism stream who had called on the youths to back away from the military vehicle.
Earlier, the youths had attacked the soldiers in the jeep, also vandalizing the vehicle.
The Gush Katif leadership slammed the actions of the youths. "We are playing with fire. If we don't work together in an orderly fashion ... we will lose the opportunity to win this struggle," said Rafi Sari, chairman of the Gush Katif anti-pullout campaign headquarters.
The youths' violent resistance, however, continued yesterday, with demonstrators blocking entry into settlements, puncturing the tires of military vehicles, and stealing aerial photographs and water bottles from soldiers.
The encounters between the demonstrators and soldiers were again accompanied by efforts on the part of the anti-pullout activists to persuade security forces to refuse to follow orders. "Look me in the eye; you are participating in a pogrom against the Jewish people; save yourself," one demonstrator called out to a soldier at the entrance to Neveh Dekalim. "It will haunt you all your life. You will be cursed; your souls will be bitter."
Many residents of the settlements were also outraged by the black uniforms worn by some of the police forces. "It's the exact color of the Nazis; only the dogs are missing," one called out.
The IDF and police will decide this morning whether or not to try to distribute evacuation orders in settlements where they were met with resistance yesterday. At the same time, security forces will help those families that wish to do so to pack up their belongings and move out. Toward evening, following consultations involving Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz, a decision will be taken with regard to the final timetable for the evacuation.
Also this morning, PA security forces will complete their deployment in the areas around the settlements. The IDF will also set up a buffer zone at the edge of the Palestinian-controlled areas with the purpose of protecting the evacuation forces and evacuees from possible Palestinian gunfire.
Meanwhile, a meeting yesterday between Mofaz and Palestinian Internal Security Minister Nasser Yousef, ended without agreement. Mofaz rejected Yousef's request for ammunition for the Palestinian security forces in the Strip. Mofaz also opposed Yousef's request to allow his forces to immediately enter every evacuated settlement.