Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Dan Halutz said Sunday that the army believes that some 5,000 anti-disengagement activists have infiltrated the Gush Katif settlement bloc illegally. To date, the defense establishment's official estimate had been that 3,000 people had entered Gaza illegally. Halutz said that only 50% of the Gaza Strip settlers would leave their homes by August 17.
Halutz spoke hours after GOC Southern Command Dan Harel estimated that the planned evacuation of Gaza Strip settlements would go forward even if the number of illegal activists in the Strip rose to 5,000.
"In the end, three or four or even 5,000 people will not prevent the IDF and the Israel Police from carrying out the law of the Knesset and the decision of the cabinet. They may make it more colorful. I hope they do not make it more violent."
Settler leaders were to lock the gates of some Gaza settlements Sunday to keep out the soldiers and police officers who are charged with handing out the eviction orders to residents.
In a parallel protest, dozens of police officers received telephone calls from people in the United States who identified themselves as members of the Chabad movement, asking the police to refuse to carry out evacuations, and to influence fellow officers to refuse, the radio reported.
It said the police were outraged that their personal phone numbers were distributed to disengagement opponents abroad.