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Israeli troops begin forced Gaza evictions


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Woman sets self afire in protest


A Jewish settler youth jumps over a burning barricade in Neveh Dekalim on Wednesday.

JERUSALEM -- Israeli troops Wednesday entered the largest Jewish settlement in Gaza, Neveh Dekalim, to evacuate as many as 4,000 people, many of whom had barricaded themselves inside a synagogue.

In protest against the evacuations, a 54-year-old woman in the Israeli city of Netivot set herself on fire Wednesday, police said. She was taken to a Beer Sheva hospital in serious condition. A protest was being held at a junction nearby, authorities said.

In Neveh Dekalim, unarmed Israeli soldiers led or carried away settlers or protesters who had infiltrated the settlements. Some of them were angry and tearful. Buses full of troops and policemen were brought in to transport them.

"I don't want to, I don't want to," screamed one woman as she was carried away, The Associated Press reported.

Officials said four troops would be brought in for every person refusing to leave. The buses transported settlers to temporary housing.

Israel Defense Forces Southern Command said that 60 percent of settlers had left Gaza by Wednesday afternoon.

3 killed on West Bank

On the West Bank on Wednesday, a Jewish settler grabbed a gun from an Israeli guard and opened fire on Palestinian workers in an industrial area of the Shilo settlement, killing three Palestinians, Israeli police said. Two Palestinians were wounded.

The settler, from the nearby Shvut Rahel settlement, was arrested.

It was not immediately known if the shooting was related to the evacuations. The two West Bank settlements involved are not among those to be evacuated.

The withdrawal is part of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to remove settlers from Gaza and four small areas of the West Bank, along with the Israeli troops who guard them, in hopes of reinvigorating the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

During televised remarks Wednesday, Sharon said, "There are difficult incidents ... largely because of the actions of youngsters, teenagers" who have infiltrated the settlements. "They are making what is happening more difficult."

Some settlers don't wish to leave because they believe Gaza is part of the traditional Jewish homeland. Other secular Israelis say they believe the move rewards terrorists and will lead to more attacks from Palestinian militant groups.

The air in Neveh Dekalim was thick with smoke from fires set by protesters. Troops were attempting to extinguish the blazes. Demonstrators also threw bottles and eggs at Israeli soldiers.

People were arrested during the evacuations, although the exact number was not available.

Neveh Dekalim was among six to eight settlements set to be evacuated Wednesday as part of Israeli efforts to evacuate about 9,000 settlers from Gaza.

There are 21 settlements in Gaza, and the deadline for the settlers to voluntarily leave passed Monday, although they were given a 48-hour grace period.

In addition to Nevah Dekalim, IDF and Israeli police forces had entered the settlements of Ganei Tal, Tel Katifa and Kerem Atzmona, according to an IDF statement, and the evacuation of Tel Katifa was complete.

Also completed, were evacuations of Bedolah, Morag, Slav, Rufiah Yam, Gadid and Peat Sadeh settlements, Israeli police said.

According to IDF and Israeli police on Wednesday afternoon, 583 houses and public buildings had been evacuated of the 2,206 houses and public buildings in Gaza's Israeli communities.

About half of Neveh Dekalim's residents have left, but many of those remaining had said they were prepared to resist the Israeli pullout from Gaza. The settlement has 2,600 permanent residents, but that number has increased because of hundreds of protesters.

At least 1,000 people had shut themselves inside a synagogue, which could prove difficult for Israeli troops to evacuate.

"You should be ashamed at what you are doing," a woman who was pushing a baby stroller, told soldiers, according to AP.

Pictures from inside the building showed it was jammed with people, many of them sobbing.

The streets of the settlement were almost completely deserted, as other settlers shut themselves inside their homes.

An agreement was being negotiated that would allow Neveh Dekalim residents to hold a formal ceremony before leaving voluntarily at about 4 p.m. (9 a.m. ET).


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I just don't know who to pity. ;)

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The ones who left when asked are going to recieve $300,000 to $500,000 depending on family size. Saw that on the news last night.

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The ones who left when asked are going to recieve $300,000 to $500,000 depending on family size. Saw that on the news last night.

Damn, i should've been there... :lol: :lol:

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