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Israeli Forces Storm Jewish Settlement in Gaza, Arrest Protesters

  • VOA News

Israeli security forces stormed a barricaded Jewish settlement in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday, arresting at least 50 people protesting government orders to evacuate the territory.

The confrontation at the Neve Dekalim settlement came hours before a midnight deadline for all 85,00 Gaza settlers to leave the territory.

Elsewhere, the Israeli army says all 79 residents have left the northern Gaza settlement of Dugit, a secular enclave whose inhabitants had been expected to leave voluntarily.

Authorities predicted that five or six northern Gaza settlements would empty today.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said he expects half of all Gaza settlers to leave peacefully. He also repeated warnings that those who do not will be removed forcibly and will lose some government compensation benefits.

Monday evening, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon described the withdrawal as a painful step -- but essential to Israel's national security.

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