Gaza settlers clash with troops over Israeli pullout

Jewish settlers have been engaged in violent clashes with Israeli troops, as the pullout from the Gaza Strip continues.

According to reports, more than 50 people have been arrested in the largest settlement, as Jewish settlers from 21 settlements leave Gaza ahead of the deadline off 22:00 BST on Tuesday night.

At Neve Dekalim, the largest settlement in Gaza, Israeli police were forced to cut through locked gates to gain entry and attempt to restore order as hundreds of protestors gathered to oppose the pullout. During the protests, it was reported that settlers called the soldiers ‘Nazis’ and urged them to disobey their orders.

An Israeli officer is believed to have been injured in the clashes.

It is believed that as many as half of Gaza’s 8,500 settlers have already left the area and one settlement, Dugit, is understood to be completely empty, with all 79 residents already gone.

Forcible evictions will be begin if any settlers are still left in Gaza after 22:00 BST on Tuesday.

However, there are fears that extremists and hardliners are attempting to get into the area. According to reports, 500 extremists were arrested on Monday night, as they attempted to get into the settlements.

Israeli police were also forced to fire warning shots at a group of Palestinian children from the town of Khan Younis, who placed a flag from the militant group Hamas on the wall outside a Jewish settlement.

Around 3,000 Hamas supporters also marched through Khan Younis on Tuesday, to celebrate the Israeli pullout from the Gaza.

The Israeli pullout from occupied Palestinian territory in Gaza is the first of its kind to take place.

In a television address on Monday night, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that Israel “could not hold on to Gaza forever” and that withdrawing from the region was “essential for Israel’s future”.

However, Palestinians have said that more pullouts from the West Bank area are needed, if peace is to be achieved.


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