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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israel Seals Off Gaza for Pullout

GUSH KATIF, Gaza Strip -- Thousands of Israeli police blocked approaches to Gaza on Sunday to keep back radical Jewish protesters in the final countdown to the Israeli pullout from occupied Gaza to begin this week.

Tensions were rising over threats of disruption after an influx of around 4,000 ultranationalists into Jewish settlements in Gaza in recent weeks to reinforce those among the 8,500 inhabitants vowing to resist evacuation.

"We are on our highest alert," national police commissioner Moshe Karadi said, announcing a series of roadblocks in southern Israel to prevent more pullout foes from slipping into the Gush Katif bloc of settlements or swamping exit routes inside Israel.

Aside from some 50,000 Israeli troops and police assigned to pullout tasks, a 5,000-strong Palestinian force was to deploy near the Jewish enclaves to prevent any attempt by militants to fire on settlers to show they were chasing them out.

At midnight local time on Sunday, border crossings to settlements were to be sealed to ordinary travelers.

"At this point, people can leave but no one can enter," said Army spokeswoman Miri Regev.

On Monday, thousands of Army officers are to fan through all 21 Gaza settlements and four of the 120 in the West Bank that are due to be uprooted, knocking on doors to tell settlers they have until midnight Tuesday to leave on their own or be forcibly ejected.