Police Take Over Gaza's Largest Settlement

Security forces have arrested at least nine people for scuffling with police and soldiers in Gaza's largest settlement today. A large crowd had gathered at the gate, trying to block moving vans from entering. Earlier, police used a saw to cut through the gate to allow people to leave freely. Police have said most of the opposition appears to be coming from outside extremists. One commander says young activists blocked some residents from leaving yesterday.

On Monday, settlers refused to allow security forces to enter Neveh Dekalim as Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and portions of the West Bank began. A short time later, burning tires blocked the path of Israeli soldiers at the entrance to the Elei Sinai settlement in northern Gaza. Opponents of the pullout continued their efforts to intervene as a midnight deadline approached. Between Monday night and Tuesday morning, Israeli police said they arrested 500 right-wing protesters who were trying to infiltrate Gaza. Thousands of Israeli soldiers fanned out around Jewish settlements in Gaza on Monday as they delivered eviction notices, warning residents they have until Wednesday to leave voluntarily or be removed by force. The scene was emotional and heated at times, but soldiers did their best to avoid confrontation, even as longtime residents shouted in their faces.

Under the eviction notices handed out Monday, settlers have 48 hours to leave Gaza. The notification process also began in four West Bank settlements. Israel has committed 55,000 soldiers and 8,000 police to the effort. Israeli officials have said soldiers who refuse to carry through with the orders face court-martial.