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Israeli high court suspends Gaza synagogue demolition; security forces clash with settlers

[JURIST] In a Tuesday ruling, the Supreme Court of Israel [official website in English] temporarily halted government plans to demolish 30 synagogues and eight Torah academies in the Gaza Strip. The decision was in response to a petition from Elei Sinai rabbi Yishai Brohan requesting the buildings be moved to Israel proper. While the pullout officially began Monday [JURIST report], the ruling gave the state 48 hours to assess the possibility of dismantling and moving the facilities, with the state agreeing not to dismantle or destroy the buildings during that time. Israel's Chief Rabbis Yonah Metzger [official profile] and Shlomo Amar [official profile] met Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Tuesday, resulting in an agreement to set up a joint committee to determine a procedure for dismantling the synagogues. Haaretz has local coverage.

Meanwhile, Israeli security forces continued to evacuate the Gaza Strip Tuesday, clashing with hundreds of opponents, arresting dozens of people and detaining 50 Israelis for resisting police and soldiers. According to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz [official profile], who expects half of Gaza's residents to have vacated by midnight, "We will make every effort, the army and the police, to have law and order in this process and anyone who acts illegally will be treated according to the law." While Jewish settlers have vowed to peacefully resist eviction, officials anticipated violence [JURIST report] from the estimated 5,000 Jewish extremists who have infiltrated the settlements. According to a police spokesman, security forces arrested approximately 500 people who were in Gaza illegally Monday night, and prevented dozens more from entering. Protesters refused security forces entry into Neve Dealim Tuesday, pelting police with plastic water bottles, Bedolah residents sets cars on fire and vowed to burn down their homes, and residents in Netzarim spent the first night of the pull-out in communal celebration, refusing to leave. AP has more.

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