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Israel Soldiers Remove Illegal Squatters from Yamit Area

Israeli soldiers broke down barricaded doors and forcibly removed kicking, screaming militants from buildings they had occupied in Hatzar Adar village in the Yami area of northern Sinai today. The operation, to evacuate illegal squatters of the movement to block Israel’s withdrawal from Sinai which must be returned to Egypt on April 25, began last week and was suspended for several days. Many if not most of the militants removed earlier, managed to evade roadblocks and return.

Today, about 50 young men and women, accompanied by MK Geula Cohen of the ultra-nationalist Tehiya faction, began repairing houses in Hatzar Adar and planting trees. Soldiers entered the village urging the squatters to leave peacefully. But the plea by a senior officer was rejected.

Two soldiers were slightly injured as they carried struggling protestors, one by one, out of the buildings and into waiting buses. The troops were unarmed. Women soldiers had the task of carrying out women protestors. The militants, mostly Orthodox Jews, shouted at the soldiers to disobey their orders because settlement was a “holy task.”

HEAD OF SINAI FORCE ARRIVES IN ISRAEL

In another development, Lt. Gen. Frederik Bull-Hansen of Norway, who will command the 2,600-man international peace-keeping force in Sinai after Israel’s withdrawal, arrived in Tel Aviv today. He joined an advance guard of 300 members of the unit, known officially as the Multinational Force and Observers (MFO), that arrived here earlier to oversee the Israeli withdrawal and the demilitarization provisions of the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.

Bull-Hansen stressed to reporters that the MFO was not a fighting force, though his men had the right to use force to defend themselves. He noted that a battalion of American soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division, part of the U.S. Rapid Deployment Force, would not be diverted from its duties in Sinai to rejoin that force. The entire MFO is due to be in place by March 20.

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