At least 2,000 Israelis managed to sneak into Gaza settlements over the last several months and remain there,  an Israeli security source reported on Monday.

According to Israeli police, the “new settlers,” who do not carry permits to enter the settlements and stay there, managed to sneak into the settlements before the Gaza Strip was closed to non-resident Israelis last month.

The Israeli army commander in the southern Gaza Strip, Dan Harel, declared the Gaza Strip and surrounding areas a closed military zone on July 13, 2005, officially barring non-residents.

Some of the Israelis managed to enter the Gaza Strip after obtaining temporary permits from the army, but remained at the settlement after their permits expired, according to Israeli security officials..

The army installed dozens of roadblocks to prevent an influx of anti-pullout activists. Security officials now admit that that effort failed, but estimate that thousands more of the activists would have entered the Gaza Strip in order to block roads, if closure has not been imposed.

Some settlers receive permits to go to the Gaza Strip, Israeli sources said. Until last weekend, the source reported, the center had issued 23,000 permanent entry permits for the area surrounding Gaza, and another 6,600 stickers for vehicles belonging to area residents.

Most of these permits were temporary, but apparently, they have been overstayed.

The Yesha settlers’ Council is planning a march to Gush Katif, the main settlement bloc in Gaza, on Tuesday, following a three-hour mass rally in Sderot, a town just east of the Gaza Strip.

Police have refused to authorize the rally or the march, but according to the Israeli daily Haaretz, they may allow a rally in the nearby town of Ofakim, which is beyond the range of the mortars and homemade shells that have recently hit Sderot in large numbers.