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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 August 2005, 21:22 GMT 22:22 UK
Gaza settlers ordered to move out
Jewish settlers plant crops in Netzarim settlement
Many settlers say they do not intend to leave Gaza voluntarily
The Israeli army has issued a letter to Jewish settlers in the Gaza Strip telling them to leave their homes or face forcible eviction.

Settlers are told their presence will be considered illegal after 15 August.

The army expresses "deep understanding for the [settlers'] pain... but as a law-abiding democratic country, we will carry out this mission in full".

It is the first formal eviction notice settlers have received, although their leaders have refused to distribute it.

Separately, the army is searching for nine soldiers, some of them armed, who deserted the army in protest at the pullout, defence officials said.

The manhunt has been intensified after an ultra-nationalist deserter killed four Israeli Arabs in the Galilee region last Thursday.

Rubble deal

On Tuesday, Israeli and Palestinian officials reached agreement over the disposal of rubble left behind by the evacuation - a crucial point of co-operation.

"Israel will carry out preliminary demolition work and afterward a third party, apparently the World Bank, will hire private Egyptian and Palestinian companies to do the final demolition," an unnamed Israeli Defence Ministry spokeswoman was quoted by Reuters as saying.

"Some of the debris will be recycled, while the rest will be buried in Egypt or Gaza. Any hazardous material will be transferred to Israel [for burial]," the spokeswoman said.

The Israeli government plans to pull more than 8,000 settlers and the soldiers that protect them out of the Gaza Strip as a unilateral security measure.

Israel is also planning to withdraw from four small settlements in the West Bank.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem since 1967. All its settlements in the territories are considered illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.




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