Army to close Kissufim crossing tonight

By Amos Harel At midnight tonight, less than 24 hours before disengagement commences, the army will seal the Kissufim crossing into the Gaza Strip. Tomorrow morning, teams of Israel Defense Forces and police officers will fan out to every settlement in the Strip to inform residents they have 48 hours to leave their homes and if they refuse, they will be evacuated by force. The order in which settlements are to be evacuated will be decided on Tuesday afternoon. A senior police source told Haaretz that even then, each brigade commander will be given two alternative assignments, to keep the order of evacuation vague for as long as possible. The real assignments will be handed out only on midnight Tuesday. The evacuation itself is to begin on Wednesday morning. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz announced Thursday that the new target date for completion of disengagement is September 4. In response to the shorter deadline, the IDF will bring in two evacuation divisions simultaneously, one in the north and one in the south, and put off the evacuation of the northern Gaza Strip and the isolated settlements to a later stage, beginning the evacuation Wednesday with five or six smaller settlements. Meanwhile, the army and police have been holding unofficial talks with settler leaders, to ensure the evacuation goes ahead without violence and to set the limits of protest. The security establishment believes the coming three days will see mass departure from the Gaza Strip. Despite the tightening of the closure on the Strip, Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi believes the number of anti-pullout infiltrators may be as high as 3,000. Presentation of official notice of evacuation may evoke opposition in some ideological bastions, such as Kfar Darom and police will arrest and remove infiltrators who try to block access to residents’ homes. The police are to set up a number of roadblocks today on roads in the western Negev to thwart the Yesha council’s plan to bring thousands of protesters to the Kissufim road, which settler leaders say will bring the movement of evacuating troops to and from the Strip to a halt. Israeli and Palestinian officers will meet in the Gaza Strip today to settle the final details of their coordination ahead of disengagement. The Palestinians are to deploy 7,500 security personnel, beginning tonight, in areas bordering on the settlements. Tomorrow night the IDF will begin deploying opposite them, with 200 meters separating the two forces. At midnight tonight, the IDF will also seal off the four northern West Bank settlements slated for evacuation. The evacuation of Ganim and Kadim, most of whose residents have left, may be moved up, while the evacuation of Homesh and Sa-Nur, where it is believed there are hundreds of right-wing activists, is to take place after the evacuation of the Gaza Strip. Opposition is expected, especially in Sa-Nur, and the Shin Ben security service says it is preparing to issue administrative arrest orders in the coming days, to prevent extremist against disengagement. BPI-info