At midnight tonight the thousands of Jews still living in the Gaza Strip will either have to leave or be forced out. It is thought thousands of militant settlers risk taking the latter option. Many are in defiant mood, using makeshift barricades to stop soldiers delivering eviction notices. “We have nowhere to go from here. What do you want us to do? Sleep in the street?”, one woman screamed at soldiers, “Should I sleep at your house? That’s right, you don’t have an answer for me. Because no one has an answer for me. So until you all have an answer for us, this is our answer I’m sorry to say”.
However these Israelis are in the minority. The government says 66 per cent of the settlers have accepted state compensation deals, and a majority of Israel’s population back the plan of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to disengage from Gaza. There are some 9000 people in 21 settlements across Gaza and four in the West Bank. The army has not said yet in what order it will evacuate the remaining settlements when the process begins on Wednesday. It intends to have left all 25 by September the fourth and to have completely pulled its troops out of Gaza in October.
Trucks carrying the belongings of settlers that have chosen the peaceful way to leave are starting to roll-out of what will become Palestinian controlled territory. Some of the first were from a religious community at Gush Katif. They left for the last time on Monday and drove in Israel to start a new life.