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Cablegate: Disengagement Situation Report, August 23, 2005

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 04 JERUSALEM 003914

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

NEA FOR FRONT OFFICE, NSC FOR ABRAMS/DANIN/MUSTAFA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KWBG KPAL PREL ECON EAID PINS IS
SUBJECT: DISENGAGEMENT SITUATION REPORT, AUGUST 23, 2005


This is a joint message from Consulate General Jerusalem and
Embassy Tel Aviv.

This message is sensitive but unclassified. Please protect
accordingly.

This message conveys information as of 1700 hours local time.

1. (SBU) Summary: On the morning of August 23, approximately
15,000 IDF soldiers and Israeli Police commenced operations
to evacuate more than 2,000 settlers and their supporters
from Sa Nur and Homesh settlements in the northern West Bank.
According to press, most of these people were infiltrators.
As of 1600 hours August 23, Israeli forces had removed
hundreds of settlers from Sa Nur and Homesh. Police in riot
gear entered the old British citadel in Sa Nur, the last
remaining holdout of settler opposition in the settlement.
The Israeli forces undertook the evacuation of Sa Nur and
Homesh with the expectation of heavy resistance, but as of
1700 hours, there were few reported cases of injuries. In
the Gaza Strip, the situation remained generally calm and
quiet with all settlements evacuated as of August 22. The
IDF is in the process of packing and removing personal items
left behind and is continuing to demolish settlement housing.
End Summary.

2. (SBU) SETTLER EVACUATION STATUS:

Gaza Strip:

-- Netzarim: Residents of Netzarim settlement left quietly
the afternoon of August 22. The departure ended the formal
evacuation of civilians from the Gaza. Construction
personnel and soldiers remain in the settlements to demolish
homes and prepare for the turnover of assets to the PA.
According to Israeli press reports, the Israeli Defense
Ministry stated that structures have been demolished in 13 of
the 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip.

-- The IDF has imposed stringent regulations on Israelis
attempting to enter the Gaza Strip after disengagement.
According to an IDF statement, future entry into Gaza would
be allowed only on buses under strict supervision of the IDF.
Private vehicles would only be allowed into Gaza under
exceptional circumstances with special permission provided by
the IDF's permit office. (Note: According to Israeli press
reports, the IDF decided to prevent private vehicles from
entering after several reported incidents of looting. End
note.) In addition, volunteers requesting access to Gaza to
help with the removal of agricultural or business
infrastructures would also need to acquire entry permits.

-- A separate IDF announcement stated that the IDF had begun
the demolition of homes in the Gaza Strip settlements of
Bedolah, Tel Qatifah, Shalev/Shelo, Gadid, Netzer Hazani,
Kfar Yam, and Ganim settlement in the northern West Bank.
The IDF has continued home demolitions in Nissanit, Rafiah
Yam, and Morag, and has also begun the process of removing
military infrastructure from the Gaza Strip. The IDF
completed the demolitions in Peat Sadeh, Dugit, and Ganei Tal.

West Bank:

-- Approximately 15,000 IDF soldiers and Israeli Police on
August 23 took part in the evacuations of more than 2,000
settlers and their supporters in Sa Nur and Homesh.
According to press, most of these people were infiltrators,
and the IDF speculated that they had acquired caustic soda,
the same substance that settlers in Kfar Darom last week
threw on Israeli soldiers and police. Israeli Police
Commissioner Moshe Karadi told the press, however, that
resistance was "less than what was expected."

-- Sa Nur: In Sa Nur, disengagement protesters barricaded
themselves in various buildings, but by approximately 1000
hours, about 100 settlers had quietly evacuated the
settlement and the IDF had removed the tent site erected in
the settlement. The IDF then went to the yeshiva where 30
protesters were holding out, and evacuated them at
approximately 1030 hours. Other infiltrators on the roof of
an old British fortress negotiated with the IDF during the
morning and were evacuated around 1330 hours. A woman who
intended to harm security forces with pepper spray was
herself affected by the gas and taken away to receive medical
treatment. An IDF soldier sustained light injuries in the
eye by settlers throwing rocks. At 1500 hours, Israeli
police, in riot gear, stormed the roof of the old British
citadel in Sa Nur to remove between 30 to 40 protesters. By
early afternoon August 23, Israeli press reported that 246
people had been evacuated from 19 buildings in Sa Nur, with
the number evacuated rising to more than 540 people by 1630
hours.
-- Homesh: Long-time residents of Homesh held a farewell
ceremony the evening of August 22. Approximately 46 of the
original 96 families remained in the settlement at the time
that Israeli forces entered Homesh on the morning of August
23. According to Israeli press reports, a settler was
arrested on August 23 in Homesh after he attempted to stab an
IDF soldier. Anti-disengagement protesters barricaded
themselves in the local synagogue, a boarding school, a bomb
shelter, and vacated bungalows. The Israel Electric
Corporation cut off the electricity to the settlement after
fires set by Israeli settlers threatened the high voltage
electrical poles in the settlement. Approximately 70
protesters were arrested trying to infiltrate Homesh during
the evacuation. The IDF raided the Har Shalom Yeshiva in
Homesh and forcibly removed right-wing activists who were
barricaded in the building. As of 1530 hours on August 23,
the IDF had evacuated approximately 360 people from the
settlement. A police officer suffered injuries when an iron
pole struck him on the leg. A total of 11 people required
medical care. As of 1630 hours local time, approximately 400
people had been evacuated from Homesh.

3. (SBU) SECURITY SITUATION:

West Bank:

-- Northern West Bank: The Palestinian Security Forces (PSF)
on August 23 proceeded with their deployment to the eastern
section of Jenin. A total of 700 PSF personnel have been
deployed thus far. While the deployment was coordinated with
the IDF, the PSF have not been allowed to deploy outside the
boundaries of the city.

-- Palestinian sources reported that the IDF on the evening
of August 22 took over several rooftops of Palestinian homes
along the main Jenin-Nablus road (Road 60) for observation
purposes. In the village of Ajja, north of Nablus, the IDF
took over one house. The IDF also entered Anza and Arraba
villages and took over the rooftops of four houses.

-- Shooting: The IDF on August 23 entered Qabatiya village,
south of Jenin, after shots were fired at an IDF vehicle
traveling near the village. Three Palestinians were lightly
injured during the exchange of gunfire. There were no
reported arrests.

-- Closures: The IDF on August 23 closed all roads leading to
the Burqa village, south of Homesh settlement, and Bizzariya
village, east of Homesh.

-- Settler violence: Israelis settlers on the evening of
August 22 threw stones at Palestinians near Eli settlement,
south of Nablus. Two Palestinians sustained light injuries
during the incident. According to Palestinian sources,
Israeli settlers on August 22 entered Haris village, near
Ariel settlement, and torched several olive trees.

-- Injuries/Arrests: According to Israeli press reports, two
IDF soldiers and one settler on August 23 were injured during
a violent demonstration at the entrance to the Qedummim
settlement. Police arrested more than 50 activists near
Qedummim who were attempting to reach Sa Nur and Homesh.
Anti-disengagement protesters also slashed the tires of an
IDF vehicle and set it on fire. In a separate incident,
Israeli police the evening of August 22 arrested Qedummim
municipality head Daniella Weiss and several dozen right-wing
activists in a demonstration outside the settlement. An IDF
soldier sustained light injuries after protesters threw light
bulbs filled with paint at the soldiers.

Gaza Strip:

-- The situation is Gaza is generally calm and quiet. All
settlements there have been evacuated.

-- The IDF reported no mortar or rocket attacks overnight,
August 22-23.

-- The IDF reported no shooting incidents during the period
between 0600 hours, August 22, and 0600 hours, August 23.
However, Palestinian sources reported that IDF soldiers on
the evening of August 22 shot and injured a Palestinian youth
near Khan Yunis.

-- Explosives Devices Discovered: In two separate instances,
IDF on August 22 dismantled explosive devices discovered near
Kfar Darom.

4. (SBU) PALESTINIAN REACTIONS:
-- According to Palestinian media sources, PA Prime Minister
Ahmad Quraya' (Abu Ala'a) on the evening of August 21 met in
Damascus with the heads of Palestinian factions, including
Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), PFLP, and the DFLP.
Palestinian faction representatives in attendance said that
Abu Ala'a indicated that the PA would not disarm the factions
in the Gaza Strip; however, PA sources said that the parties
agreed to maintain the "oneness" of the authority and would
refrain from displaying weapons in public following the
Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

-- PA President Mahmud Abbas the evening of August 22 phoned
Israeli PM Sharon to offer congratulations on the Israeli
disengagement from the Gaza Strip. According to Israeli
press reports, Abbas praised Sharon for a "courageous" and
"historic" decision and expressed hope that the disengagement
would usher in a new era of relations between Palestinians
and Israelis. Both Abbas and Sharon agreed to meet soon,
although no date was scheduled for the meeting. Abbas on
August 23 also phoned Israeli President Katzav to offer
similar congratulations.

-- Rafiq Husseini, chief of staff to PA President Abbas, on
August 23 told the Associated Press that the Israeli
disengagement from Gaza represented a historic opportunity
for Palestinians to build a future Palestinian state.
Husseini said that the PA would push for a return to
negotiations once Israel completed its disengagement from
Gaza.

-- Sa'eb Erakat, chief PLO negotiator, on August 23 said the
PA expected Israel to hand over Gaza in early October.

-- Hamas has called for a central rally in Gaza on August 25
to mark the Israeli disengagement from Gaza.

5. (SBU) GOI POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS:

-- The Knesset Finance Committee is meeting in special
session to discuss the alleged housing problems facing Gaza
settler evacuees. The Director General of the Prime
Minister's office reported that 600 apartments, which the GOI
has rented for evacuees, remain uninhabited. He also said
1,203 compensation claims have been filed with the
Disengagement Authority (SELA) and that 793 of these have
been approved.

-- Fifteen Knesset members set up a "lobby for the Gush Katif
uprooted" in the Knesset on August 22. Likud rebel, Ayoub
Kara, formed the group, which consists of MKs from the Likud,
Shas, the National Religious Party, and the National Union.
At their first meeting, these MKs sharply criticized SELA for
its alleged failure to deal with the housing, employment,
educational and agricultural needs of the settlers.

-- MFA contacts told poloff that the GOI's public relations
strategy is to focus on Palestinian responsibilities rather
than be dragged into a debate over whether Israeli occupation
in Gaza will persist post-disengagement.

6. (SBU) BORDER CROSSINGS/HUMANITARIAN ACCESS:

-- Gaza Coastal Road: The coastal road is now open with free
movement of traffic in both directions, according to
Palestinian sources.

-- Erez Crossing and Industrial Zone: According to Gaza
private sector contacts, Erez remains officially closed to
Palestinians, but the IDF continues to allow a small number
of people to pass based on humanitarian/medical grounds with
prior coordination. On August 23, 140 Palestinian workers
were allowed to enter Israel. Factory workers were also
permitted into the Erez industrial zone, according to
Palestinian sources.

v~-- in and out o"Gaza, although coordination
is still required for Palestinian males aGd76 to 35 years.

-- Abu Kholi JunQion: Re-opened Y 0115 hours and closed at
0515 hours, August 23.

-- Karni Terminal: Karni remains open on August 23. It had
been closed temporarily on August 22 as settlers were
evacuated from Netzarim.

-- Kissufim: The main crossing used to enter Gush Katif and
Kfar Darom settlements, Kissufim remains open only to
traffic/persons leaving Gaza. The IDF tightened restrictions
and announced that all media personnel must leave Gaza by
2200 hours, August 22, through Kissufim.
WALLES

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