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Israeli army braces itself for next week's Gaza pull-out

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Israeli army braces itself for next week's Gaza pull-out

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The Israeli army has being carrying out military drills to prepare its soldiers for next week’s pull-out from Gaza.

Though a majority of Jewish settlers seem to have accepted they will have toleave, it is feared some will use violence to oppose the evacuation. The government says 60 per cent of settler families have applied for state compensation, suggesting they have dropped their resistance to the withdrawal. On Sunday, in the first of a series of votes, the Israeli cabinet approved the evacuation of three of the 21 Gaza settlements. They will be dismantled next week. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has vowed to remove all the the 1,700 settler families living in Gaza and those in four outposts to be cleared in the West Bank. In a positive sign for Sharon, settlers have started giving up their guns to the Israeli army. The hand-over aims to minimise the risk of armed clashes during the pull-out. About 300 guns have been relinquished so far. But most settlers made sure the authorities could make no mistake of their opposition to the withdrawal. Orange ribbons were tied to the guns, the colour is now a symbol of the settlers’ oppostion to the evacuation.