(photo credit: )
In the roughest confrontation since the disengagement got underway on Monday, at least two policemen were wounded and 50 activists were arrested when a fracas erupted between security forces and right-wing activists and settlers in Neveh Dekalim Tuesday afternoon.
The clashes broke out after security forces moved to disperse hundreds of resisters, mostly teenage youths, who attempted to block moving trucks from entering Gaza's largest settlement.
By 1:30 p.m. the wild confrontation had largely subsided, thanks in part to settler leaders who addressed the protestors on loudspeakers and appealed to them to let the moving vans through. The vans had come to service families who wished to leave and they should not be hindered, settler leaders said.
One policeman was seen being led away from the scene with blood coming out his mouth. According to Channel 1, a police photographer was wounded when an activist poured an acidic substance on the policeman's face, which entered his eyes.
The police photographer was apparently responsible for recording the events of the day, and was not involved in actually clearing out settlers.
According to an IDF spokesman, security forces had arrested 50 people by the time the fracas has calmed.
Youths dragged large dumpsters and planted them in the middle of Neveh Dekalim's main road and set them aflame. In front of the dumpsters, piles of wood and tires blazed, barring moving vans from accessing the settlements. The protestors repeatedly shoved the smaller of the two flaming dumpsters towards security forces.
Donning blue hats, rows of soldiers tightly linked arms and slowly moved in on the protestors. At least five rows of soldiers pushed firmly against the activists, trying to herd them out of the street, but they met with wild resistance.
Hundreds of anti-disengagement activists pushed and shoved troops and police trying to clear a way for the moving trucks.
The activists, mostly children and teenagers, hurled plastic water bottles at the security forces. A number of them were lifted up and carried off by border policemen, while they struggled and shrieked anti-disengagement slogans. The phrase "But we are brothers" was heard repeatedly shouted at the security forces.
A thick black smoke arose over the demonstrators and security forces, many of whom were wailing and crying.
The Border Police brought in a water cannon truck, topped with a large white flag, to extinguish the blazing dumpsters. A powerful stream of water sprayed the street and drenched the fires, as the truck was pummeled under a barrage of water bottles and white paint. The truck deployed smaller sprinklers and windshield wipers in order to remove the paint, while at the sidelines, activists attempted to relight the fires.
On the far side of the crowd from the moving crates, residents of Neveh Dekalim were seen continuing with their packing, as houses were emptied of boxes and furniture. Through the smoke of the dumpsters, a sofa was carried high on the shoulders of residents trying to leave before the midnight deadline.
The police and IDF geared up for the settlers' last day of grace on Tuesday, expecting hundreds of families to leave their homes willingly - driving out of their settlements in their own cars.
At midnight Tuesday the grace period runs out, and evacuating teams will begin to move the settlers who remain by force.
Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz is to meet late Tuesday night with senior IDF and police officers to finalize the sequence in which to evacuate the settlements.
The defense establishment expressed satisfaction with the evacuation-order distribution Monday night, with Brig.-Gen. (res.) Eival Giladi, head of disengagement strategic planning, anticipating that some 800 families would leave by the Wednesday deadline.
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