Gaza last stand thwarted

Opposition to Israel's withdrawal from Gaza collapsed last night as police and soldiers outmaneuvered the last major pockets of resistance inside the Jewish settlements.

A few hundred Jewish protesters had vowed never to leave Gaza but, after 36 hours of noisy protest, most surrendered meekly when faced by thousands of members of the Israeli security forces.

Some of the more radical demonstrators had threatened bloodshed, but in the end there was no appetite for Jew to spill Jewish blood.

Forty police officers were reported slightly injured and in Kfar Darom settlement 70 arrests were made. Eggs were thrown at police and a bus intended to carry protesters away was set on fire, informs Telegraph.

At the beachside settlement of Kfar Yam, a Jewish settler armed with an M-16 rifle threatened to open fire on troops if they attempted to evacuate him. Negotiators persuaded him to to end his protest peacefully.

The evacuation took place amid relative Palestinian restraint in spite of anger sparked by the shooting dead of four Palestinians by a Jewish settler in the West Bank on Wednesday. Palestinian militants fired mortars at a Gaza settlement but caused no casualties.

Asher Weissgan, a 38-year-old settler in the West Bank, said he had no regrets over killing four Palestinians before arriving in court yesterday. "I hope someone also kills Sharon," he said yesterday.

Mr Sharon yesterday made clear Israel would not co-ordinate the entry of the Palestinians into Gaza "until the full and complete evacuation of the last soldier and the last piece of equipment," reports Financial Times.

Photo report here

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