- The Washington Times - Monday, March 21, 2005

JERUSALEM — Longtime Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip are increasingly nervous about a wave of new neighbors who, they fear, are intent on violently resisting the evacuation of settlements this summer.

The original residents are planning passive resistance to the evacuation but worry that extremists who have moved to Gaza in recent weeks are planning acts that will lead to bloodshed.

In some cases, the longtime residents have given the names of newcomers to the security services, hoping to neutralize the extremists to encourage moderate sympathizers to join the nonviolent protests.

Hard-line activists have said they intend to flood the settlements with tens of thousands of supporters on the eve of the planned evacuation.

Meanwhile, the government yesterday announced plans to build 3,500 housing units in a large West Bank settlement neighboring Jerusalem.

Palestinian officials condemned the project, which appears to violate the terms of the U.S.-backed “road map” peace plan, which calls for a freeze in settlement activity.

Also yesterday, Israelis and Palestinians agreed on terms for turning over security control of the West Bank town of Tulkarem to the Palestinians — the second of five towns scheduled to be returned to local control.

The Israeli army, which controls the Gaza Strip, last week issued a ban on families moving into Gaza to join the 8,000 settlers who are scheduled to be evacuated.

The strip is to be declared a restricted military zone well before the evacuation, which is to begin in July, to keep out nonresidents. About 600 families moved to Gaza this year before the ban on new settlers went into effect.

Some of the newcomers belong to a messianic, ultranationalist organization called Revava that includes former members of the outlawed Kach Party founded by Meir Kahane, who died in 1990.

One of the group’s leaders, David Ha’ivri, has written an article that attempts to show that civil war had an acceptable place in Jewish history. He cited the battle between the tribe of Benjamin and the 11 other tribes and the wars between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel.

“We will not hand our inheritance over to the enemy in the name of a false unity with those whose goal is to eliminate sanctity from our nation and our land,” he wrote.

Although almost all the longtime Gaza settlers are religious, they remain part of the Israeli mainstream and said they had no intention of severing themselves from the rest of Israel.

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