Photo: AP
Photo: Reuters
Sharon wants evacuees to settle in Negev
Photo: Reuters
Police: Evacuation may end by Monday
Ministers told 70 percent of Gaza residents have been removed; Sharon: Evacuees should be convinced to settle in southern Negev desert. Prime minister instructs to keep forces in Gaza for fear of Palestinian looting

About 70 percent of Gaza settlers have been removed from the Strip, meaning the evacuation of Jewish residents from the area could end by Monday or Tuesday next week, Police and Disengagement Authority officials say.




The figures were presented during a special session held by the ministerial committee for disengagement affairs, which asked for a snapshot of the pullout so far.


The session also dealt with the day after the evacuation, with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon saying the momentum should be used to settle the southern Negev desert.


"This period, which will not be repeated, should be used in order to speak with evacuees and make an effort to direct them to communities in the Negev," he said. "They must be called upon to immediately move to new settlement in the Negev."


Meanwhile, Vice Premier Shimon Peres told his colleagues his office set up a special team to prepare for the absorption of hundreds of family in the Negev and northern Galilee region.


"I'm acting out of a deep sense of urgency, with hundreds of families found in hotels without having decided where they'll turn and build their homes and their future," Peres said.


Fears of looting


Meanwhile, Sharon warned against a premature departure of military forces from the Gaza Strip, fearing looting by Palestinians.


"Until the last soldier has left the last settlement, Palestinians will not enter," he clarified. "I fear that the Palestinians will engage in acts of robbery and attempt to break into settlements. I do not see Palestinian forces taking action against them and I don't trust them to do so."


Sharon also said that the evacuation of the Gaza settlements of Atzmona, Katif and Netzarim will begin next week.


Security establishment representatives said in the meeting that Kerem Atzmona will be dismantled Thursday and the plan is to move on to Rafiah Yam, Gan Or and Pe'at Sadeh by Sunday.


Meanwhile, preparations for demolition have been completed in the northern Gaza settlement of Dugit. In Nisanit, also in northern Gaza, preparations will be completed shortly.


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