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Gaza Evacuation Continues with Expected Completion Ahead of Schedule

  • Larry James

Some 2,000 Israeli troops moved into the small settlement of Gadid Friday morning as the Gaza evacuation entered its third day.

The operation began at sunrise when an Israeli bulldozer pushed through a burning barricade at the entrance to Gadid. Soldiers and police then moved in to begin removing people one by one. Teams of soldiers and police went into the settlement's synagogue and quickly cleared out dozens of settlers and protesters who had gathered there. Other teams entered the homes in the settlement, escorting some settlers out, carrying others who refused to go willingly.

Police brought in a water cannon to confront young men who had taken positions on the red tiled rooftops of the settlements' houses.

The scene was similar to that witnessed in Kfar Darom on Thursday where water cannons were used to roust extremists from the roof a synagogue. Youths on the roof pelted police with acid, oil and sand in what was the most violent protest so far in the withdrawal. At least 20 police and soldiers were injured in the clash.

Despite the injuries, Major General Dan Harel, southern forces commander, said he is satisfied.

"Keeping the confrontations at such levels is something that I could only wish for before we started this operation," he said.

Israeli Army spokeswoman Captain Yael Hartman said the operation is progressing rapidly but that the security forces are still expecting to encounter stiff resistance in the Gaza communities remaining.

"At this point there are six Israeli communities including Netzarim and Katif, Netzarim being the one we think might be more difficult to evacuate," she said.

Captain Hartman also confirmed that the military has begun demolishing homes in the settlements, beginning Friday with the tiny enclave of Kerem Atzmona.

The army announced it will suspend operations Friday afternoon for the Jewish Sabbath, but will resume them Sunday.

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