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
News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site this morning

News
Mike Tyson has led an appalling and sad life, but are we not a country that gives second chances?
people

Former boxer recalls incident when he was seven years old

Sport
A Rutherford Raiders shirt with the PornHub sponsorship
football

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Charlie Sheen could be set to revive his role as a hedonistic womaniser

Life and Style
Jamie Oliver’s version of Jollof rice led thousands of people to post angry comments on his website
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
glastonbury
News
Apple CEO Timothy Cook
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Vividly drawn: Timothy Spall in Mike Leigh’s ‘Mr Turner’
film

Review: Mike Leigh's biopic is a rambling, rich character study

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

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission £100k +: SThree: Trainee Recru...

Senior Automation Tester – Permanent – West Sussex – Circa £40k

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

KS2 Teacher Plymouth

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Randstad Education Plymouth: Randstad Education Ltd...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Day In a Page

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities
‘A bit of a shock...’ Cambridge economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

‘A bit of a shock...’ Economist with Glasgow roots becomes Zambia’s acting President

Guy Scott's predecessor, Michael Sata, died in a London hospital this week after a lengthy illness
Fall of the Berlin Wall: History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War

Fall of the Berlin Wall

History catches up with Erich Honecker - the East German leader who praised the Iron Curtain and claimed it prevented a Third World War
How to turn your mobile phone into easy money

Turn your mobile phone into easy money

There are 90 million unused mobiles in the UK, which would be worth £7bn if we cashed them in, says David Crookes