Gush Katif Sealed Off to Non-Residents

As predicted this morning by pro-Gush Katif activists, the military issued orders closing off Gush Katif in Gaza shortly after noon today to non-residents of the area.

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, | updated: 13:31

Southern Command O.C. Maj.-Gen. Dan Har'el signed orders today forbidding entry to non-residents or authorized personnel into Gush Katif, the Jewish areas of Gaza.

During a high-level meeting of senior security establishment officials Wednesday night, the IDF expressed support for imposing restrictions on entry to Gush Katif at this time, despite the manpower demands necessary to enforce the policy. The final decision, which was made by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, became clear at noon Thursday (today, June 30, 2005).

“The moment they restrict Jews from entering Gush Katif based on what is written on their identity cards – that is D-day,” Moshe Feiglin of Manhigut Yehudit - the Jewish Leadership faction of the Likud party - has said. “The residents of Gush Katif and those coming to support them should all refuse to present their identity cards upon entrance. When a Jew is barred from Gush Katif, the Disengagement has begun.”

The eviction of people in the beachside Maoz HaYam (Sea Fortress) Hotel has also begun.

Hundreds of army tents have been set up on Highway 232, south of Gush Katif. They are apparently designed to serve the large amounts of soldiers set to stream into the area.

There are reports of intermittent scuffling and tension between soldiers and Gush Katif residents at the Kfar Darom girls' school, not far from Maoz HaYam. Residents are attempting to block cars and otherwise prevent soldiers from engaging in pullout-related work. Soldiers are responding by shoving and dragging the interfering residents. No injuries were reported.

Maoz HaYam, formerly Gush Katif's luxurious Palm Beach Hotel, has become a stronghold of new Jewish residents in recent weeks. The army closed off the communities in Gush Katif in an attempt to prevent residents from coming to the hotel and thwarting the army's attempt to empty it out.

MK Effie Eitam (Religious Zionism Renewal) reacted to the dramatic developments in Gush Katif by saying, "The attempt to isolate our heroic brothers in Gush Katif will not work. We will call on everyone to come and connect with the residents, in order to prevent the fence intended to stop terrorists from being used to separate between brothers. Today, we will convene the struggle leadership and call on all the public to begin the trek to Gush Katif."

The Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council is planning to hold an emergency meeting in Gush Katif this afternoon. The meeting, set for 4:00pm at the N'vei Dekalim city hall, will be attended by the Council heads, right-wing public figures and representatives of the Gush Katif leadership.

The closure of the Gush follows a day of cat-and-mouse rock-throwing attacks and struggles over the new Jewish outpost in the Mouassi area adjacent to the Gush Katif seashore. More than 40 people were arrested at the new outpost of Tal Yam on Wednesday. The IDF's 7th and 188th brigades were being brought into Gush Katif this morning, together with three other battalions.