Israeli troops demolishes military installations, bridge to settlements

Israeli troops demolished the remaining military installations in the Gaza Strip on Friday, in final preparations for the pullout from the territory after 38 years of occupation.

The pullout was to be completed by Tuesday, and soldiers now left without bases and guard posts were to remain in armored vehicles until then. The head of Israel's forces in Gaza, Brig. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, will be the last soldier to leave the coastal strip and will lock the gate of the Kissufim border crossing in a small ceremony.

Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said Friday that all Israeli soldiers should be out of Gaza by Monday, but that the pullout could be delayed by a day because of uncertainty over the fate of more than two dozen synagogues in Gaza's demolished Jewish settlements.

The Israeli Cabinet is to decide Sunday whether Israel will demolish the synagogues, or leave them intact, with the expectation the Palestinians will preserve them. Mofaz told Israel Army Radio on Friday that "it is very hard for me to give the army orders to destroy and blow up Jewish synagogues."

The Palestinians insist that Israel remove the synagogues. If Israel does raze the buildings, the pullout will be delayed by a day, reports the AP.