Israeli troops have stormed a hotel in the Gaza Strip used as a base by radical Jews. The army has declared the settlement areas a military zone – a move which has opened the way for them to use tough tactics to get the protesters out.
They oppose Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to evacuate all 21 settlements in Gaza, including Gush Katif, arguing that the land was given to them by God.
Makeshift barriers were set alight to slow down the troops.
The army hopes closing down the area will halt an influx of young ultranationalist Jews from the West Bank.
Sharon gave commanders the green light to use in his words “every necessary step” to stop the far-right activists.
The government has been faced with a barrage of protests in recent days – with roads blocked and buildings occupied.
The army has expressed fears the violence could provoke clashes with Palestinians.
That could endanger the current ceasefire and force the withdrawal plan due to go into operation in mid-August to be put on ice.