August 23, 2005 in Nation/World

Holdouts gird for confrontations

Andrew Metz Newsday
Associated Press photo

A Jewish settler sets up barbed wire Monday at an old British fortress in the Jewish settlement of Sanur in the West Bank.
(Full-size photo)

SANUR, West Bank – When Israeli forces swept through the Gaza Strip to evict Jewish settlers, they were met with tears and bitterness, punctured tires and paint bombs.

On this ragged West Bank hilltop, there were preparations for a fight.

With the last Gaza settlement evacuated Monday, thousands of Israeli police and soldiers began today removing protesters and the few remaining residents from Sanur and a neighboring settlement, where as many as 2,000 opponents were promising a spirited last stand. They were welding bars across the windows of the synagogue here Monday night, and metal spikes lay along the roadside.

At the start of today’s eviction, military bulldozers tore down the gates of the Homesh and Sanur settlements.

Young men and some of their elders ran razor wire around an Ottoman-era fort at the center of Sanur and said they would not initiate violence but they do not plan to sit by as soldiers pull them from land they believe is theirs by biblical deed.

“If they spank me, I will spank them back,” said Shaul Halfon, 70, a former Israeli army commander and rabbi who presides over the makeshift synagogue amid the tents and trailers that make up this settlement a few miles from the Palestinian city of Nablus.

Halfon is revered by the many radical youth who have flocked to the settlement, one of four in the area slated to be turned over to the Palestinians. His message about the soldiers and police is clear: “They are murderers, they are not human beings,” he said. “If he does this, he cannot be Jewish.”

There already have been skirmishes between troops and protesters. An army truck was set on fire and pelted with stones. Despite a recent handover of the community’s weapons, there have also been media reports of stockpiled stun grenades, guns and plans to pour boiling oil on the forces.

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