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Hamas: Disengagement is Proof That Zionism Can Be Defeated

By IsraelNationalNews.com

A Hamas spokesman from northern Samaria told the Al-Jazeera web site that the organized celebrations - said to cost $10 million - of Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gush Katif and northern Samaria were not a waste of resources, but reinforce the message that Zionism can be defeated. The Hamas spokesman, Muhammad Ghazal, told Aljazeera.net, "Arabs and Muslims worldwide must realize the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip is not an act of Zionist magnanimity, but rather the result of sustained resistance and heroic sacrifices." Mahmoud A-Zahar, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, called the Disengagement Plan "the first receding of Zionism from Palestine."


Israeli Settlement Evacuation Begins Amid Protests

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem) & IsraelNationalNews.com

Israeli troops have begun fanning out into the Jewish settlements of the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank to hand out eviction notices giving settlers 48 hours to leave voluntarily or face forced evacuation under the government's controversial disengagement plan. That was the sound, Monday, at the largest Gaza settlement Neve Dekalim - an Israeli soldier calmly informing settlers that the teams distributing evacuation notices were coming in whether they liked it or not.

While he addressed the large crowd that had gathered at the front entrance to the settlement, hundreds of Israeli troops and police entered through the back way, without incident - a potential confrontation avoided. Once inside, however, they encountered other angry residents determined to resist.

Elsewhere in Gaza and in four settlements in the northern West Bank, teams of Israeli soldiers and police began handing out the official eviction notices. In some instances, security forces were met with pleas not to carry out their order like this man who wept as the drama began to unfold in the northern Gaza settlement of Elai Sinai. "We have Jews trying to kill Jewish communities," said one settler. "This is no disengagement. This is a community destruction plan. This is no such thing as disengagement. The only disengagement this is is a disengagement from sanity, from survival and the future of the Jewish people."

Authorities expect about half of the estimated 8,500 settlers in Gaza will leave voluntarily. But others, along with thousands of outside supporters who have managed to infiltrate into the settlements, are determined to resist. The regional Israeli commander directly responsible for the operation, Gen. Dan Harel, said the operation is going to plan, despite some delays.

Harel said the troops have come on Monday to talk and not to confront anyone, but he acknowledged that there has been resistance from some young people in several places. He said, if that continues, troops would go in and remove these young protesters and then continue on talking to the settler families.

The wave of "Last Minute Refusals" has grown by the hour, with soldiers throughout the IDF stating they would not obey orders relating to the forced expulsion of Jews from Gaza and northern Samaria.

According to Rotter.net, five IDF battalion commanders have warned of mass refusal by soldiers in a document written to Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz and Chief of Staff Dan Halutz last week. The letter reportedly reveals a phenomenon called "last minute refusal." The five lieutenant colonels wrote that there is a possibility that up to half of all soldiers, including officers, assigned to Disengagement duties intend to disclose their objection to the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and Samaria on the day they are ordered to carry out the mission.

The planned "surprise" refusals, according to the letter, have been made explicit in private conversations. The five officers warned the chief of staff and the defense minister that senior officers are ignoring the growing phenomenon. There has been a steep rise in refusals in recent days, and with Monday's delivery of eviction notices to residents, the trend continues to grow.

Monday morning, 15 soldiers in the Maintenance Corps refused to board a bus that was to take them from their base southward. The soldiers refused to take part in the uprooting of the Jewish communities of Gaza. Seven of the soldiers were sentenced in speedy field trials to 21 days in jail, while the remaining eight are still being questioned by military police. A female soldier from the Communications Corps refused to take part in operations related to the implementation of the Disengagement Plan and is now being tried for insubordination.

A soldier from the elite Givati combat brigade was declared AWOL on Saturday and sentenced to 35 days in prison; he was also charged with having entered Gush Katif without a permit. Their commander declared six soldiers of the Golani Brigade AWOL. The six announced that they refused to take part in blocking the way of Jews making their way to Gush Katif, in the perimeter ring outside of the Gaza area. Other Golani soldiers have been reassigned to alternate missions in the Golan Heights, on Israel's northern border.

Three other elite combat soldiers in Gush Katif told Arutz-7 that they had left their units to help prevent the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif, but had not yet been declared AWOL due to the fact that they have not been absent long enough to qualify. A soldier in the air force left his unit and attempted to enter Gush Katif last Tuesday. He was halted at a checkpoint and arrested. His commanders are expected to sentence him in coming days. Many soldiers in the air force have been assigned to Disengagement duties due to their high motivation to obey orders so that they don't lose their place in the elite air force courses for which they have been training.

An officer cadet in the Egoz reconnaissance unit refused to take part in sealing off northern Samaria, a support role for the actual expulsion of the Samaria Jews. He was sentenced to 28 days in jail. Another growing phenomenon involves those soldiers who are taking part in Disengagement duties, but purposely sabotaging them. One Gush Katif "infiltrator" told Arutz-7 that as crossed through fields and dirt roads heading toward Gush Katif, two Golani brigade soldiers spotted his group. He said both of them did nothing more than wave at them. Later, at the permanently closed Kissufim Crossing, the group was "accidentally" waved inside.


Sharon Calls Gaza Pullout Vital For Israel's Future

By Larry James (VOA-Jerusalem)

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said the withdrawal from all the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four smaller ones in the West Bank is a painful but important step for Israel's future. His comments came in a televised address Monday night after Israeli troops began handing out eviction notices to settlers. He said the pullout is a painful step, both for the nation and for him.

The prime minister, once the strongest force in favor of the settler movement, said he dropped that support because of what he termed the changing reality in the nation, the region and the world. He said more than a million Palestinians live in Gaza, and the population doubles every generation, adding, 'we cannot hold Gaza for good.' He said withdrawing the settlements is the only way that will lead Israel to the bright future he believes lies ahead.

Sharon said it is now up to the Palestinians to clamp down on militants and stop the violence. He said that if Palestinians do so, Israel would respond "with an olive branch." Sharon proposed the Gaza pullout last year, saying that protecting 8,500 settlers, surrounded by more than one million Palestinians, came at too high a cost in both lives and money.

Earlier Monday, thousands of Israeli soldiers and police began delivering eviction notices to the settlers. Young people opposed to the pullout blocked their entry in at least five settlements. Israel's top general, Dan Halutz, warned that troops would forcibly remove any Israeli who remain in the territory on Wednesday. Authorities expect about half of the estimated 8,500 settlers in Gaza will leave voluntarily. But others, along with thousands of outside supporters who are with them in the settlements, are determined to resist.


Foreign Resident Buys Are No passing Fancy

By Ha'aretz

Israeli realtors who believe that the purchase of Israeli apartments by foreign residents is a phenomenon that will soon pass are mistaken, said Stuart Hershkowitz, deputy CEO and head of the International Division at the Bank of Jerusalem. He said that recent conversations with hundreds of Jews from Australia, the United States and Europe showed that there has been a fundamental change in the attitude of world Jewry toward Israel and that this phenomenon would only grow in the next few years.

The Israeli real estate market has not yet digested the entry of foreign residents to the arena, although it is impossible to ignore their presence. Foreign residents purchased more than 2,000 apartments last year, and market sources project an even larger figure for this year. Buyers are looking for apartments in certain neighborhoods in Jerusalem and in a few locations in Ashdod, Eilat, Netanya and Tel Aviv. They sometimes cause price rises of dozens of percentage points - in a market that has been shrinking and suffering steadily declining prices for the past few years.

These buyers don't live in their apartments on a regular basis, but rather come here for short periods and then return to their homes abroad. Their actions are often motivated by specific economic conditions (mainly the dollar/euro exchange rate) and growing anti-Semitism overseas. When these conditions change, say some realtors, the wave of purchases will also subside, and the inflated prices of recent transactions by foreign residents in high-demand neighborhoods will slide back to realistic levels, in keeping with the rest of the Israeli real estate market. Hershkowitz totally disagrees.

Hershkowitz said, "Many people relate to Diaspora Jewry as a single unit with homogeneous tastes, drives and similar behavior. The explanations citing the increase in the euro/dollar exchange rate and anti-Semitism are true, for example, only concerning European Jewry. The fact is, however, that most of the buyers are Americans who have not suffered increased anti-Semitism, and for who now is not the best time to buy property if one uses an economic test. Furthermore, it is also a fact that most foreign Jews are buying properties at high prices and are not making a good deal from the point of view of a financial investment. They are being guided by far deeper sentiments than the exchange rate and the local real estate market.

"The purchase of apartments for a million dollars or more, which used to happen once a month, has now become a weekly occurrence. Americans who come to Jerusalem tell me they have come to buy a property for $500,000. After a tour with an agent, they tell me, `We have decided to invest a little more and buy something for a million.' For them, this is no problem.

"They already own one or two or three homes, and an additional home in Jerusalem might come at the expense of a house in Florida, for example. They are happy to buy here, and view it as a step up in their relationship with the Jewish State from that of the past, when they were satisfied with substantial donations to the United Jewish Appeal or a purchase of Israel Bonds. True, they don't live in Israel, but owning an apartment here strengthens their ties to Israel."

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