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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-326290 Israel Gaza (L-O)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=7/31/2005

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=ISRAEL/GAZA PULLOUT

NUMBER=2-326290

BYLINE=ROBERT BERGER

DATELINE=JERUSALEM

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

HEADLINE: Israel Threatens Retaliation if Palestinians Attack During Gaza Pullout

INTRO: Israel is warning of harsh retaliation if it is attacked by Palestinians during the upcoming pullout from the Gaza Strip. Robert Berger reports from the VOA bureau in Jerusalem that in another development, the Israeli government expects half of the Gaza settlers will refuse to leave their homes voluntarily.

TEXT: Israel is planning to launch a massive ground operation if Palestinian militants fire on Israeli soldiers and settlers during the Gaza pullout, which is due to begin in mid August.

/// BOIM ACT IN HEBREW, ESTABLISH AND FADE ///

"We would halt the evacuation of settlers for 10 days to two weeks and inflict a severe blow," said Israel's Deputy Defense Minister Ze'ev Boim. He said the army would send 12- to 15-thousand troops to Palestinian towns near Jewish settlements in Gaza. The evacuation would resume once the army stops Palestinian fire.

The Palestinian Authority has promised to ensure a peaceful Israeli withdrawal, but Israel doubts that Palestinian forces are willing or able to control powerful Islamic militant groups led by Hamas. But Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat says his side is ready.

/// EREKAT ACT ///

"We are determined to deliver, and to control, and to ensure that the 'disengagement' will take place in a smooth and peaceful atmosphere."

/// END ACT ///

Under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's disengagement plan, 21 Gaza settlements will be dismantled, and more than eight-thousand Jews removed from their homes. Israeli officials say they expect about half of the settlers slated for evacuation will refuse to leave. One such settler is Rachel Sapperstein. She told VOA that it is a duty to resist what she calls "ethnic cleansing."

/// SAPPERSTEIN ACT ///

"And it is a shameful thing on the part of the government of Israel to be doing this to the Jewish people in the Land of Israel. It is a terrible, terrible shame."

/// END ACT ///

The settlers who refuse to leave have a lot to lose. They could forfeit tens of thousands of dollars in government compensation, and the army will remove them by force. But many settlers have vowed to resist until the bitter end. (SIGNED)

NEB/RB/RAE



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