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Israeli forces enter largest Gaza settlement
(China Daily/Agencies)
Updated: 2005-08-17 06:05

NEVE DEKALIM, Gaza Strip: Israeli security forces poured into the largest Gaza settlement yesterday, clashing with crowds of protesters defying orders for Jews to leave the occupied territory by midnight or be removed.

Jewish settlers cry during scuffles with soldiers and police in the Neve Dekalim settlement in the Gush Katif bloc of Jewish settlements in the southern Gaza Strip yesterday. Israeli security forces poured into Neve Dekalim, the largest Gaza settlement yesterday, clashing with protesters defying orders for Jews to leave the occupied territory by midnight or be forcibly evicted. [Reuters]   
Soldiers and police trying to take control of Neve Dekalim, a flashpoint of resistance against the first uprooting of Jewish settlements on land Palestinians want for a state, dragged away more than 50 youths, some kicking, punching and cursing.

The scuffles, the most violent since the army issued a 48-hour eviction notice to Gaza settlers, were wreathed in smoke as hundreds of demonstrators trying to block moving vans entering the settlement burned piles of rubbish on the main street.

Some protesters pelted troops with paint-filled balloons, and one settler woman lay down in front of a bulldozer. A few people in the crowd were left with bloodied faces.

Officials vowed to do whatever was necessary to clear the way for settlers leaving under Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan for "disengaging" from conflict with Palestinians. Anyone left after the midnight (2100 GMT) deadline faces forcible eviction.

"We do not intend to blink," said Brigadier-General Miri Regev, chief military spokeswoman. "If there is no choice, the police will arrest all of the lawbreakers."

Taking heed of the deadline, many settlers packed up trucks and shipping containers and joined an exodus that Israel says will mark the end of its 38-year occupation of the Gaza Strip.
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