08/22/2005, 00.00
ISRAEL
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Gaza: the clearing out is over; tomorrow evacuations start in Cisjordan

Gaza (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Israeli army today went ahead with evacuating the Netzarim colony, the last one still occupied by Israeli residents in Gaza. The zone was described as a "stronghold": around 60 ultra-orthodox families lived there. The residents of the colony – isolated from the other ones and at the doors of Gaza city – numbered around 500 and their representatives had said several times that they did not intend to stoop to pacts with the Israeli army and police.

Palestinians defined this colony as a "bone in the throat" given its proximity to their capital which necessitated continual road blocks and other restrictive measures.

Government forces responsible for the clearing left Rehim camp in the south of the Jewish state, at dawn and crossed the frontier. The military did not immediately give the order for evacuation; the colony residents gained some hours to organize their departure and to celebrate the final ceremony in the local synagogue. When the function was over, the colony residents had to board a bus towards Israeli territory which went through the Karni mountain pass. The army dispatched some special units to defend the convoy of colony residents from possible attacks of the Palestinian Intifada throughout the journey – some km long – between Netzarim and Karni.

On Sharon's orders, after today's operations, the security forces will tomorrow face the two Cisjordanian settlements of Sa-Nur and Homesh where strong resistance is predicted. Yesterday seven people in this area were wounded in clashes between anti-withdrawal protesters and security forces. The Homesh colony residents burned an army outpost used for telecommunications and this morning, several military vehicles in the area had their tyres burst by upturned nails. The clashes led to some injuries. Some anonymous government sources said this morning that those mandated to carry out the evacuation are ready to be heavy-handed with the circa 2,100 residents of the two settlements.

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