After the evacuation of citizens is completed, we will have to clear their equipment, destroy the structures and eventually withdraw the IDF forces from the Gaza Strip, Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said during a joint IDF-Israel Police briefing following the evacuation of Sa-Nur and Homesh, the last settlements in northern Samaria.
Evacuation of Homesh (Video: Channel 2):
“Looking back, there is no doubt the evacuation of citizens was carried out faster than anticipated, and this is a testament to the preparedness of both the IDF and police forces and the civilian authorities that took part in the operation, especially the Disengagement Authority and the Defense Ministry,” he said.
“The behavior of the evacuated settlers must be commanded. Many challenges are ahead of us.”
Halutz said he estimates the transfer of the equipment and the demolition of settlement homes will take about 10 days, while the evacuation of army bases would take an additional 10 days.
“During the operation we evacuated a total of some 15,000 citizens. The operation would not be a success without the work of the commanding officers, the soldiers and the police officers who conducted themselves in a logical manner – but with a lot of determination.
Police Chief Moshe Karadi said during the briefing, “We completed the mission without casualties and in the best possible manner,” he said.
'Pullout foes set excellent example'
He praised the evacuating forces, saying, “We have completed a complex task, a national mission, but many challenges still face us.”
IDF Central Command Chief Yair Naveh said, “The physical evacuation (of Homesh and Sa-Nur) was carried out as planned, some 6,000 police officers and soldiers were activated. A long night of deliberations with rabbis and settler leaders preceded the operation.”
“There were a few cases of severe violence throughout the evacuation, including two stabbing attempts, but all in all, the task was completed in a relatively peaceful manner,” he said.
Naveh said the demolition of the Sa-Nur structures, except for the British fortress, would begin next Sunday, adding that forces are preparing for the possibility that settlers may attempt to return to their former homes.
Despite the relatively smooth evacuation of Sa-Nur and Homesh, 17 settlers were arrested, and 31 soldiers and police were injured; 11 civilians were also injured during the operation.
Evacuating forces cleared 620 people from Sa-Nur and 709 from Homesh.
Earlier Police forces removed all pullout foes from the roof of the old British police fortress in Sa-Nur using containers.
The operation passed off without major disturbances, according to officers taking part in the clearance. One senior officer who too part in clearances said that “as opposed to Kfar Darom, those who fortressed themselves here set an excellent example.”