Israeli Security officials were meeting Wednesday night to decide on a proposal to close Gaza starting Thursday morning.

Such move will have to be approved by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, around 20 restraining orders will soon be placed on right-wing activists from Gush Katif, some of whom reside in the Maoz Yam hotel, and others elsewhere in the Gush.

Due to fears of further escalation by right-wing extremists in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Army may soon seal off the entire area.

‘A decision on sealing off the Strip is already in the air,’ an Israeli army General Staff officer on Tuesday. ‘If the trend toward growing extremism continues, there will be no choice but to declare the area a closed military zone in the near future.’

Sealing off Gaza would require the deployment of large forces into the Strip earlier than planned. The move would also place severe restrictions on both the approximately 5,000 Israeli settlers in the Gaza Strip and the 1.3 million Palestinians who live there.

Army officers are concerned that if Gaza continues to be accessible to Israelis, more settlers and right-wing foes of the government’s disenggement plan would join extremists already occupying a hotel in the Gush Katif settlement bloc and an abandoned home in the nearby Palestinian community of al-Muassi.

In recent days the extremists have clashed with both local Palestinians and Israeli security forces.

On Tuesday, extremists from both the hotel and the Muassi house threw stones at Palestinians, and there were also occasional fistfights. On Sunday, settlers and rightist activists clashed with soldiers as they destroyed a structure in the area close to Gush Katif.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz issued Tuesday a warning to settlers and right-wing extremists.

‘Soldiers have full backing to carry out the disengagement,’ declared Mofaz

‘We will not allow hands to be raised against soldiers, policemen, or security personnel,’ Sharon said.