Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, addressed the Israelis on Monday at night and said that “Israel is leaving the Gaza Strip from “position of strength, not weakness” and vowed harsh response if the resistance fired at the settlements during pullout.

Also, Sharon added that the pullout will enable Israel look inward and fight poverty in Israel.

“We are beginning this painful step, the evacuation of our settlements in the Gaza Strip, and northern West Bank”, Sharon said, “It is a difficult step for me, the government approved the pullout with a heavy heart”.

Sharon stated the he and many other Israeli leaders, always believed and hoped to hold on Netzarim and Kfar Darom settlements forever, “but the changing realities in Israel and the region forced me to change my position”.

“We cannot remain in the Gaza Strip forever, more than a million Palestinians live there, and there number is doubling each generation”, Sharon said, “They are living in poverty, distress and amidst an environment of escalating hatred, with no hope for a better future”.

Sharon also said that Israel tried to arrive to peace agreements with the Palestinians, but “the agreements were shattered on walls of hatred”, according to Sharon.