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Israel Resumes Gaza Evacuation; Sharon Slams Settler Leaders

Israeli troops moved into several more Gaza settlements Sunday to clear out remaining families and protesters who have refused to leave. As operations resumed Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sharply criticized settler leaders for inciting resistance.

The scenes were reminiscent of those that took place last week, when Israeli soldiers and police first began to forcibly evacuate the Jewish settlements of Gaza.

This time it was the settlement of Katif - first on the list as operations resumed Sunday morning. Defiant settlers and protesters set up makeshift barricades of burning hay bales, tires, wood and anything else they could find. The military sent in fire trucks and bulldozers to put out the blaze and remove the barricades and then troops moved in.

"Won't somebody, somewhere please come help us and stop this move," the woman pleaded as the by now familiar teams of unarmed soldiers and police entered the settlement.

Other times soldiers were lectured about how wrong the evacuation is, how such things are not done in a real democracy and how one day Israel would realize it had been a mistake.

Katif had been home to more than 40 families and as of Sunday morning very few of them had left voluntarily. It is one of three settlements slated for evacuation Sunday - along with Atzmona and Slav.

Security forces are expected to begin evacuating the isolated settlement of Netzarim on Monday. They hope to complete evacuating all 21 Gaza settlements and its 8,500 residents by mid week.

So far, there have been many emotional scenes, but only limited scuffles and violence. The most bitter clash was probably in Kfar Darom, where young religious and nationalist zealots pelted police with eggs, paint and acid from the roof of the synagogue.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said when he saw these attacks against the soldiers and police on television, he became furious.

Speaking before the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on Sunday, Mr. Sharon said these were "acts of hooliganism."

He also harshly criticized settler leaders for inciting resistance and violence. He said they were willing to see people suffer to further their own political gains.

The Yesha Council of settlements has called on those evacuated from Gaza to set up tent camps inside Israel. Mr. Sharon said there was no need for that since the government was providing proper housing for the settlers.

During the Sunday cabinet meeting, ministers voted 16 to four - to give official approval for the final stage of the evacuation.

Authorities fear there could be more violence ahead when troops move to evacuate the northern West Bank settlements. Settlers in two of these enclaves have already left. But, in Sanur and Homesh, settlers and extremists who have flooded into the area in recent weeks are expected to put up stiff and possibly violent resistance when troops come to evacuate them later in the week.