The Israeli army has begun forcibly evicting Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip.
Hundreds of unarmed soldiers and police entered key settlement blocs early Wednesday, after a deadline passed for settlers to leave the territory voluntarily. Television footage showed troops dragging uncooperative settlers to buses to be taken out of Gaza.
Many others voluntarily boarded the vehicles. In Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon urged settlers and other opponents of the pullout not to attack police and soldiers.
Speaking at a joint news conference with President Moshe Katsav, Mr. Sharon described video of the evacuation as heartbreaking.
The prime minister proposed the Gaza pullout last year, saying the cost in Israeli lives and money was too high for protecting 85,00 settlers surrounded by more than one million Gaza Palestinians. Israel captured the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war.