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Israeli troops surround Gaza synagogue in pullout standoff

[JURIST] Israeli security soldiers on Thursday entered the religious settlement of Kfar Darom and surrounded a synagogue filled with hundreds of young pullout opponents as the soldiers removed screaming residents from nearby homes and a religious school. One soldier refused to take part in the operation and had to be dragged away; the first such mutiny since the start of a forced evacuation of Gaza settlements [JURIST report]. The strongest resistance in Kfar Darom is expected at the synagogue, where the roof has been covered in rows of barbed wire and extremist teenagers from the West Bank have joined the settlers. Israeli officials said the Gaza withdrawal would be finished by Tuesday, taking far less time than earlier predicted. Reuters has more. The Israel Defense Forces' official disengagement website has the latest updates on the evacuation process.

9:20 AM ET - Elsewhere in the Gaza strip Thursday, Israeli forces stormed the main synagogue in the Neve Dekalim settlement in order to remove 1,500 protesters. Israeli Defense Forces [official website] soldiers were unable to negotiate with the protesters, who are being carried out of the synagogue to waiting buses. AP has more.

10:18 AM ET - AP is reporting that Israeli riot police have broken open the door of Kfar Darom synagogue and are using water cannons against protesters refusing to leave the synagogue.

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