Following Thursday’s successful evacuation of settlers and right-wing activists from a hotel in the Neveh Dekalim settlement, the Israel military on Friday called off its closure of the Gaza Strip.

The settlers’ council had warned Thursday that if the closure was not lifted, it would mobilize tens of thousands of people to march on Gaza and break the siege.

Senior army officers responded by telling settlement leaders the closure would be lifted quickly if they pledged to stop additional extremists from outside the Strip from entering their settlements.

The army had declared Gaza a closed military zone on Thursday at noon, banning Israelis other than residents of the Gaza settlements from entering the Strip. The orders came following a day of clashes between soldiers and Gaza settlers.

For part of Thursday, settlers were forbidden to leave their settlements, and frequently even their houses, while the security forces forcibly evacuated the Moaz Yam Hotel in Neveh Dekalim.

The hotel had become a headquarters for activists opposing Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s plan to evacuate settlers from the area. Approximately 100 extreme settlers and right-wing activists had surrounded the area with barbed wires and stockpiled food,

Soldiers, policemen, and Border Police were used to storm the hotel and remove the activists, who had barricaded themselves in the hotel dining room, handcuffed to each other. The police and soldiers dragged the settlers out of the hotel after conducting room to room searches.

The right-wing activists had decided to use only passive resistance and refrain from violence against the soldiers, according to the Israeli online daily Ha’aretz

Four extremists were arrested. No injuries were reported.

“The whole evacuation process was completed within 40 minutes,”, an Israeli military source reported.