Tuesday, August 16, 2005

At midnight local time, the grace period runs out for Jewish settlers in Gaza to withdraw voluntarily in compliance with Israeli PM Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan; at least 50% of the estimated 8,500 settlers have already left, including all settlers fr. Dugit (est. 1990, pop. 70, size 245 dunams [d.; 4 d. = 1 acre].), Nisanit (est. 1980, pop. 1,100, size 1,610 d.), Pe’at Sadeh (est. 1989, pop. 110, size 935 d.), Rafiah Yam (est. 1984, pop. 130, size 574 d.), Shalev (est. 2001, pop. 50). Gaza and the n. West Bank remain closed military zones to Israelis for the duration of disengagement (see 6/30, 8/15). Israel Defense Forces (IDF) soldiers prepare to forcibly remove the settlers who remain and the estimated 5,000 disengagement protesters (mostly West Bank settler youth) who snuck into the Strip. Meanwhile in Gaza, the IDF searches Palestinian homes nr. Bayt Lahiya, in Wadi al-Silqa; occupies a Palestinian home in Dayr al-Balah as an observation post. Jewish settlers fr. Gaza’s Gush Katif bloc, burn animal food storage bins in al-Mawasi. In Khan Yunis, 1,000s of Hamas supporters rally to celebrate the pending disengagement. In the West Bank, the IDF detains, beats a 16-yr.-old Palestinian who throws stones at troops outside Tulkarm; conducts arrest raids, house searches in villages around Hebron and in Qabatya nr. Jenin; demolishes an animal farm outside Hebron for construction of the separation wall; occupies 1 Palestinian home nr. Hebron, 1 nr. Tulkarm as observation posts. Jewish settlers fr. the West Bank settlement of Homesh (to be evacuated under disengagement) occupy, vandalize 2 Palestinian homes nearby; the IDF removes them. (BBC, IMEMC, XIN 8/16; PR 8/17; PCHR 8/18)