Loud explosions have been heard in the Gaza Strip, signalling the start of the demolition of synagogues in the evacuated Jewish settlements. It follows a ruling by Israel’s highest court yesterday that soldiers could go ahead with the destruction. A few dozen settlers and rabbis made a final visit to their places of worship in the former settlements.Leading rabbis had argued that ritual law forbids Jews from destroying synagogues. But the Israeli government said that the 25 houses of worship should be razed to prevent possible desecration by Palestinian militants. The Palestinian Authority argued there was no reason for them to remain. Israel plans to start the final stage of the pullout next Monday and finish by September 15.