Troops break resistance in West Bank settlements

Thousands of Israeli troops have begun the evacuation of two West Bank Jewish settlements. Security forces had expected confrontations in Sanur and Homesh to be the most violent phase of the withdrawal from Gaza and four northern West Bank settlements. However, opposition was surprisingly mild.

In Sanur, dozens of youth had barricaded themselves behind the main synagogue's gates. After troops stormed inside, the compound was empty in less than an hour.

In Homesh, opponents to the withdrawal sought refuge on the roof of a religious school. They locked arms but did not struggle when they were placed in the shovel of a bulldozer and were lowered to the ground, reports CBC.

According to Reuters, In the face of threatened violent resistance in barricaded redoubts, security forces dispensed with extended negotiations used in Gaza and moved swiftly on radicals hunkered down in three synagogues, a seminary, an old citadel and private homes.

The young ultranationalists had streamed into the two enclaves from other West Bank settlements to bolster a few dozen remaining residents holding out against evacuation.

"You cannot force us out of the land of Israel," one settler mother screamed at soldiers arriving at her door.

After brief attempts to coax out occupants, police equipped with riot batons and shields broke easily into houses and used saws, pile-drivers and sledgehammers to batter their way into two fortified synagogues and a yeshiva (Jewish seminary).

By midday (0900 GMT), about 330 radicals had been removed from 19 buildings in Sanur and Homesh, an army spokesman said.

"There were 60 families in Sanur but (few) are left now. What we're dealing with here is a huge number of infiltrators who make this much more a fight over ideology (than settlers clinging to homes)," said spokesman Jonathan Schroeder.

"Our current estimate is that there are 1,000 protesters here, mostly out of sight, holed up in houses," Israeli national police chief Moshe Karadi told reporters.

Palestinians watched the Sanur evacuation from a nearby village also named Sanur. "I'm happy because I hope this will let me move freely to (regional Palestinian city of) Qalqilya for my business," said antique dealer Walid Abdullah, 58.

Israel said it finished removing 8,500 Jews from all 21 settlements in Gaza on Monday, two weeks faster than expected, a big step toward ending 38 years of occupation there.

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