One of the last pockets of resistance to the Gaza withdrawal – the tiny settlement of Gadid – has been overcome.
Soldiers and police officers poured in this morning, pushing through burning barricades and dragging screaming protesters from a synagogue. Diehards took to the roofs shouting “Nazis” as security forces prised some 90 hardline settlers from the building. Six hours later their job was done. Troops had been keen to wrap up their toughest tasks before the start of Jewish Sabbath at sunset. At least 18 of Gaza’s 21 enclaves are now clear. Demolition has already begun at some settlements. Many of their former residents are being housed in a caravan park in southern Israel until new accomodation is found or built. The latest survey shows the majority of Israelis are still in favour of the pullout, although most believe the grief of the settlers is genuine. Speaking in Gaza City, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said the withdrawal was the result of sacrifices by the Palestinian people. “I want to pay tribute to our martyrs, to our prisoners, our wounded, to all those people who have made sacrifices,” he told a large crowd. Israel’s retreat marks the end of 38 years of occupation and the first removal of settlements from land the Palestinians want for a state. The Palestinan Authority plans to build high-rise housing on the vacated land to ease conditions in densely-populated Gaza.