Israeli troops are preparing to evict Jewish settlers who remain in the Gaza Strip after the expiration of a deadline for them to voluntarily leave the Palestinian territory.
Soldiers and police in a large convoy of vehicles entered Gaza at dawn Wednesday, heading towards the Gush Katif settlement bloc.
Israel's deadline for Jewish settlers to voluntarily leave the Gaza Strip has passed, setting the stage for the forcible eviction of those who remain.
Ahead of the deadline, Israel's top coordinator for the withdrawal, Eval Giladi, said half of the settlers in Gaza have left the territory.
Also Tuesday, hundreds of unarmed Israeli troops and police have entered the largest Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip, Neve Dekalim, to try to persuade settlers there to leave. The troops destroyed barriers in the settlement to allow moving trucks in. At least 50 people protesting the withdrawal were arrested.
Earlier, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State David Welch met with Palestinian officials in Gaza. The State Department says he stressed the importance of Palestinian security officials ensuring there is no Palestinian violence during the withdrawal.
Some information for this report provided by AFP, AP, Reuters.