Israeli Army is planning to hold some far right-wing Israeli settlers under preventive arrest ahead of the intended evacuation of Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip, Israeli media sources reported on Monday.

According to the source, such step has been recommended by senior officers in the Army’s Central Command and it will target dozens of ‘high-profile’ settlers who have been campaigning against the disengagement and organizing protests menat to obstruct the army’s operations.

The targeted rightists are mostly residents of settlements in the West Bank, especially Yitzhar, considered to be the most hard-line settlers in the West Bank.

Israeli defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has already signed one administrative detention order against one right wing settlers, Neria Ofen from Yitzhar settlement, south of Nablus.

Ofen, 34, is one of the well-known activists promoting Jewish control over the Haram Al-Sharif area, known by the temple mount.

Ofen, was arrested by police at the Hizme checkpoint north of Jerusalem Sunday afternoon, on suspicion of involvement in planning attacks against Palestinians. Ofen will be kept in custody until September 30, after the disengagement is scheduled to be completed.

Israeli military sources said there was a consensus among the state prosecutor, army’s central command and Shint bet to arrest Ofen.

‘There was unequivocal information about his plans to harm Arabs in the near future,’ the sources said. ‘That’s why such an unusual step was needed’ the source said.

Although he was never arrested or formally questioned, Ofen has also long been suspected of involvement in attacks on Palestinians. His name was mentioned indirectly during investigation of Jewish terror cells suspected of involvement in killing incidents in 2001-2002, which victims were eight Palestinian civilians.

This arrest angered the Yitzhar settlers and right wing groups and officials.  A spokesman for Yitzhar, said that the arrest was ‘an act of cowardice. The defense minister apparently decided they could never find evidence against Ofen.’

MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union), who promotes a civil disobedience to stop the disengagement, said, ‘I want to congratulate the first administrative detainee under the Sharon dictatorship and to tell him: If you’ve been arrested, you’ve won.’

Meanwhile, the Women in Green (Women for Israel’s Tomorrow) activist organization condemned the arrest and demanded Ofen’s immediate release. ‘We are against administrative detention, but if Jews who pose a danger are going to be arrested, then Ariel Sharon and Shimon Peres should be arrested for threatening the very existence of the State of Israel,’ they said.

The settlers Yesha council described this move as ‘slipping down the slope of administrative detentions, an instrument of totalitarian regimes.’ The outlawed Kach movement said, ‘The witch-hunt has begun.’

Security soruces reported that the army will allocate five soldiers to every settler who objects forcibly to being evacuated. Four soldiers will take hold of the settler’s arms and legs, while the fifth will clear a way through the crowd for his comrades to carry the settler away.

Officially, the police are in charge of coming into direct contact with the settlers who barricade themselves.

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