Israeli troops smash their way into last two settlements

The security forces broke the back of the resistance at the two militant hilltop settlements of Homesh and Sa-nur in what had been seen as potentially the most difficult phase of an operation which has now boosted the Israeli Prime Minister's standing by being executed way ahead of schedule.

While predictions that protesters would use firearms did not prove correct, the police and the army encountered more determined civil disobedience, barricading of houses and other buildings, and other forms of - mainly - passive resistance than they had in most of the Gaza settlements evacuated last week.

The army said last night that one man had been arrested after attempting to stab a soldier at the religious college here, and there had been a second stabbing attempt somewhere else. By nightfall, the only protesters left were two in Homesh who had clambered up a 30 metre pylon to shout anti-disengagement slogans.

In the last stand against the disengagement process - which began in earnest only a week ago - some of the opponents, mainly drawn from extreme-right youth in other West Bank settlements and in Israel, had coiled barbed wire round houses and public buildings, pelted police and soldiers with eggs, paint, flour and lightbulbs and set fire to skips and at least one car.

In two houses where dozens of clapping, singing religious teenage girls held second-storey sit-ins, the stairs had been destroyed to make their arrest more perilous. In one house police were obliged to create a makeshift staircase of breeze blocks, and in the other a ladder, to bring down the teenage girls, after a local rabbi failed in his reluctant efforts to persuade them to come down.

Several men and women were carried out struggling from their houses after troops broke down the barricaded doors. The overwhelming majority of the 1,320 people removed from the two settlements were infiltrators.

Security forces were forced to lay down a limestone coating on the main roads into and through the settlement after protesters poured oil to slow their advance. In Sa-nur police used teargas as they cleared the roof of the old British police station which protesters were using as their redoubt.

The turning point at Homesh came when specialist border police with visors and riot shields stormed up ladders to cut a two-meter barbed wire fence erected around the roof of the settlement's synagogue where a dozen young adults and children had been leading the verbal abuse and egg-throwing at security forces.

After moving on to the roof the police called up a bulldozer to take the handcuffed adults in its scooped bucket to the ground below. Police forced open the doors of both the synagogue and the religious college next door shortly afterwards and dragged out around 40 protesters from inside.

As the army chief of staff General Dan Halutz said that the demolition of 2,500 houses in Gaza would take place within 10 days, it was clear that the speed of the disengagement has confounded predictions, first that it would not take place at all, and then that it would be a protracted and violent process.

Mr Sharon intends to exploit the success by addressing the UN General Assembly in New York next month. But by breaking the taboo on dismantling any of the settlements, which have grown relentlessly since Israel's seizure of Gaza and the West Bank in 1967, the process may fuel international - and some domestic - calls for larger evacuations in the West Bank.

Mr Sharon could seek to deflect such pressure by fulfilling his long-standing promise to the US to dismantle illegal outposts - effectively new mini-settlements which are not openly authorised by the government. The Jerusalem Post reported yesterday that he was "likely" to start dismantling outposts within 90 days.

At the same time Mr Sharon has repeatedly told his restive Likud party that he intends no further unilateral disengagement and this week once again repeated that building would continue within the largest semi-urban settlement blocks on the West Bank.

The mood of the opposition at Homesh and Sa-nur yesterday may have been affected by the repeated predictions of settlers leaders on the Yesha Council - in the face of equally repeated denials by Mr Sharon - that the evacuations there were the first of many more in the West Bank.

One mother, who would give her name only as Orly and came to Homesh three months ago to join the anti-disengagement protests with her four children, said: "It is horrible that we destroy our lands, our synagogue, that we destroy our homes. The Palestinians will be happy when they see this."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
Arts and Entertainment
Amis: 'The racial situation in the US is as bad as it’s been since the Civil War'
booksAuthor says he might come back across Atlantic after all
Extras
indybest
Life and Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 200th birthday of Irish writer Sheridan Le Fanu
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
News
i100
News
In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind Jim Carrey and Kate Winslett medically erase each other from their memories
scienceTechnique successfully used to ‘reverse’ bad memories in rodents could be used on trauma victims
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# Developer (C#, ASP.NET Developer, SQL, MVC, WPF, Real-Time F

£40000 - £48000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Devel...

C# Swift Payment Developer (C#, ASP.NET, .NET, MVC, Authorize.N

£45000 - £60000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C# Swift...

Front-End Developer (JavaScript, HTML5, CSS3, C#, GUI)

£55000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End Deve...

Graduate C# Developer (.NET, WPF, SQL, Agile, C++) - London

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Graduate C# De...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?