Israeli authorities begin expelling Gaza settlers

Israeli authorities on Wednesday began expelling a group of young Jewish settlers from an abandoned house where they set up an outpost near this Gaza settlement, witnesses said.

The settlers took the abandoned house earlier this week after Israeli troops demolished 11 nearby buildings, says AP. Authorities fear the young settlers plan to use the buildings as centers of resistance during Israel's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, scheduled to begin in mid-August.

Earlier militant Jewish settlers threw spikes and oil on Israel's main highway in the prelude to a day of protest against the plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip. Reports say the spikes damaged at least 20 cars travelling from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and caused gridlock near Ben Gurion airport, no-one was injured.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon promised to use an "iron fist on hooligans" who violently resist the pull-out.

Israeli police has information, that the settlers intend to carry out attacks on infrastructure.

The pullout, which is due to begin on 15 August, will see the removal of settlers from all 21 Gaza settlements, and four of 120 in the West Bank. Settler groups strongly oppose the plan and the authorities fear the resistance could turn violent. Mainstream settler groups say they will only use passive resistance, notes BBC.

According to Reuters, Israeli police arrested several Jewish ultra-rightists in a move aimed at preventing sabotage ahead of the withdrawal. The police called it “preventive arrests.” "We will carry out preventive arrests whenever needed. There is not one case where a preventive arrest has been carried out without just cause,"Internal Security Minister Gideon Ezra told Israel Radio.

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