IDF begins handing settlers eviction notices

The army began formal implementation of the disengagement plan Monday morning, as teams of soldiers moved into the northern Gaza settlement of Nissanit and handed settlers eviction notices, which will go into effect early Wednesday. The step came hours after the Disengagement Law took effect at midnight, with the army sealing off the Strip and barring all Israeli citizens from entering the settlements slated for evacuation. Nissanit is already almost completely abandoned, its largely secular residents having moved to temporary housing within Israel. But the army wants to prevent anti-disengagement activists from re-occupying the site in an effort to stymie the pullout. Although resistance was expected in many settlements, the first couple to receive the notice in Nissanit invited the soldiers into their home and offered them a drink of water. Settlers in some southern Gaza and West Bank enclaves, meanwhile, blocked the entrances to their settlements to prevent IDF troops and reporters from entering. The IDF and police have decided not to deliver eviction orders to five hardline Gaza Strip settlements, following requests by their residents. Therefore, soldiers will not enter Monday morning the settlements of Netzarim, Kfar Darom, Azmona, Katif and Dugit. Senior police sources said the disengagement law does not stipulate that such orders must be issued, but the security establishment had decided to deliver them to the settlers. The decision to refrain from serving the notices was aimed at preventing friction and possible clashes. Shortly after midnight on Sunday the first IDF convoy of evacuating forces rolled into the Gaza Strip. Some 50 vehicles, including jeeps, ambulances and buses carrying police and soldiers entered the Strip in a first wave. More than 20,000 troops and soldiers have been deployed to carry out the disengagement. Also Sunday night, settlers clashed with IDF troops near the northern West Bank settlements of Sa-Nur and Shavei Shomron. Sa-Nur is one of the four settlements in the northern West Bank to be evacuated along with all 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip. As part of efforts to stop anti-pullout activists from infiltrating Gush Katif, Israeli authorities set up roadblocks across southern Israel and cut off bus service to the settlements in the Gaza Strip on Sunday. By Sunday evening, the police had blocked off Negev roads at the Tze’elim, Orim, Gilat, Hamazleg, Gabim, Ibim, Ruchama, southern Ashkelon, and Klasberg junctions. Only residents of southern Israel and those with a legitimate reason for being there will be allowed to cross, police said. The roadblocks are part of the sixth „ring” of security, for which the police is responsible, in the areas within the Green Line near Gush Katif. Police sources said Saturday that these roadblocks are likely to cause major traffic jams throughout the area. On Sunday, thousands of residents remained inside the settlements, vowing to resist their eviction. Other opponents of the pullout have threatened to hold massive demonstrations against the plan and to run the roadblock on the Gaza border to create chaos and torpedo the plan. Yesha leaders tell youths in Gaza to save energy for morning protests Early on Monday, Yesha Council leaders used the PA system at Neveh Dekalim to tell youths who had arrived in Gaza to go to sleep and save their energy for anti-pullout protests in the morning. The settler leaders said troops wouldn’t attempt to enter the settlement until daybreak, so there is no point in continuing to block the way at that time. Two mortar shells landed in the central Gaza settlement of Gadid around 4 A.M. on Monday, Israel Radio said. There were no initial reports of casualties. However, the blast was heard in Neveh Dekalim and residents of the settlement were told to take cover in shelters. IDF closes off Gaza in ‘historic’ ceremony IDF Brigadier General Guy Tzur ordered troops to take down the roadblocks leading into Gush Katif for the last time at midnight on Sunday. Soldiers put up a sign written in English and Hebrew on the roadblock, ordering people not to enter the Gaza Strip or remain there, and, as of midnight, it became illegal to enter the settlement bloc. The IDF, calling the event an historic occasion, set up flags and invited foreign press to cover the ceremony. After the ceremony, the Strip was closed to all Israeli citizens. In addition, all the roadblocks set up at access roads leading into Gaza have been closed, including Karni crossing in the north and Sufa crossing in the south. During the ceremony, a few families left the Strip carrying their belongings. All in all, 150 families had left Gush Katif on Sunday, the last day before disengagement started. Hundreds more intend to leave their homes by Wednesday morning, when the army will begin to forcefully evacuate the settlers. BPI-info