IDF Southern Command Head Dan Harel later promised settlers that the army would refrain from storming the hotel overnight, a message relayed by settler leaders to activists barricaded at the hotel.
Authorities were planning to raid the building in a bid to arrest suspects in connection with a brawl Saturday night that left several Palestinians injured. However, the operation was called off after hundreds of residents arrived in the area, some in buses, minibuses, and taxicabs.
Overall, at least 200 youngsters arrived at the hotel, along with many families and children.
Earlier, Far right activists who have gathered at the hotel ahead of the upcoming Gaza Strip pullout were barricading themselves for fear that security authorities were planning to storm into the building later Thursday or early Friday.
The activists distributed a leaflet outlining their concerns among thousands of pullout objectors who attended a mass prayer session at the settlement of Neve Dekalim earlier Thursday. The leaflets called on residents to sleep at the hotel overnight in a bid to foil police plans.
An activist leader, Arieh Yitzhaki, told Ynet the group received information regarding a possible police and Special Forces raid on the hotel.
“We were informed that security forces are reconsidering their steps as a result of the plan’s exposure,” he said. “We dispatched whoever we could and we’ll prevent them (authorities) from committing this crime.”
‘They’re giving us a bad name’
In recent days, activists at the hotel continued to reinforce the building’s fences for fear of a potential security forces’ raid.
Meanwhile, the police are still looking for those involved in the brawl Saturday where one Palestinian sustained shooting injuries and others were beaten up. Authorities believe far right activists who arrived at the hotel over the past weekend were involved in the incident.
Two weeks ago, senior security officials said they had no intention of storming the hotel. However, following Saturday’s incident a senior police official said the police would “find their way” to suspects in the affair should they ignore requests to come in for questioning.
On another front, veteran Gush Katif residents are saying they are upset over the far right presence in their midst. Local residents say they are concerned the new arrivals undermine the moderate image pullout objectors in the area are trying to nurture.
Moreover, some locals say the far right presence is leading to tense relations with political and security echelons.
“They are giving old time residents a bad name,” one Gush Katif leader who declined to be named said.