Israeli police used water cannon on fortified synagogue

Riot police with shields and helmets burst into the synagogue of this hard-line Gaza settlement and fired water cannon at protesters gathered on the fortified rooftop.

Police entered the building, removing piles of chairs and debris blocking the doors. Army cranes began raising metal cages over the building, preparing to carry protesters away. A soldier stood atop one of the cages with plastic riot shields, and the cages were pelted with rocks.

Protesters on the roof threw eggs, milk bags and light bulbs filled with paint at police below. One protester defiantly raised the Israeli flag.

The synagogue showdown was one of two taking place at the same time in Gaza. In the region's largest settlement, Neve Dekalim, troops were dragging away hundreds of right-wing protesters holed up inside, reports The AP.

According to Reuters, protesters linked arms and chanted "Jews don't expel Jews" as groups of four soldiers pulled them out one by one and carried them to waiting buses. One youth wrapped in an Israeli flag writhed and sobbed as he was taken away.

It was part of an effort by Israeli forces to break down the last bastions of resistance to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's plan to end 38 years of occupation of the coastal territory.

On the second day of forced evacuation, confrontation also loomed in the hard-line settlement of Kfar Darom, where soldiers encircled hundreds of young radicals holed up behind razor wire in a synagogue, many standing on the rooftop singing.

As negotiators tried to reach a peaceful end to the standoff, troops knocked on doors nearby and ordered people out. Shouting and sobbing, some had to be dragged out, repeating scenes from other Gaza settlements the day before.

"We won't be moved from the Land of Israel," shrieked a bearded man in a prayer shawl who tied himself to a staircase and had to be cut down and carried away by soldiers. Rightist Jews believe Gaza is part of Israel's biblical birthright.

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