| Israeli police officers use a bulldozer to remove settlers from the roof of a religious school in the West Bank settlement of Homesh. (AFP)
Sanur/Homesh (West Bank) Aug. 23 (Reuters): Israeli forces dragged protesters out of two West Bank settlements today to complete a removal of Jewish settlers under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to pull out of some occupied territory.
Predictions of long, tough resistance by ultra-Rightists proved wrong just as they did in Gaza where troops cleared out 8,500 settlers from all 21 enclaves in less than a week as part of the move to “disengage” from conflict with Palestinians.
Police stormed a citadel and synagogues in the Sanur and Homesh enclaves that had been fortified by radicals, drawing a hail of bottles, light bulbs, paint, ketchup, eggs, cooking oil and flour in their effort to extract diehard settlers.
Some were plucked from a synagogue roof in the scoop of one of the bulldozers that had rammed through barriers of burning tyres and rubbish at the gates to neighbouring Sanur and Homesh.
There was a brief melee on one Homesh house roof after police, holding up shields to deflect projectiles hurled by youths, scaled ladders and scrambled over a razor-wire barricade to tackle the recalcitrant protesters.
As the operation was declared complete, police grabbed last holdouts on the roof of an old citadel and pushed them kicking and screaming into a shipping container that was then lowered by crane to a waiting bus.
“Sanur and Homesh are clear of settlers,” said national police spokesman Avi Zelba.
Sharon’s US-backed “disengagement plan” marks the first uprooting of settlers from land captured by Israel in the 1967 West Asia war and which Palestinians want for a future state. Diplomats hope the pullout will revive West Asia peace talks.
Palestinians want Israel to cede all of the West Bank and Gaza. But Sharon has sworn to keep the largest Jewish settlements in the West Bank, where some 230,000 settlers live among 2.4 million Palestinians.
Jewish ultranationalists sought to make the withdrawal from a pocket of the northern West Bank more painful than the generally smooth evacuation from Gaza to deter Israel from again ceding Jewish enclaves on occupied land.
Hundreds of radical teenagers had slipped into Sanur and Homesh from other West Bank settlements to bolster a few dozen leftover residents holding out against evacuation.
But thousands of troops and police needed only hours to overwhelm resistance and there was little full-blown violence. Security forces dispensed with talks used in Gaza.