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Israeli Cops Gird for Settler Violence

Israeli police expect that most Jewish settlers will resist evacuation from the Gaza Strip and northern West Bank and are girding for an array of extreme scenarios that include attacks on Israeli and Palestinian public figures and threats of mass suicide, an Israeli newspaper reported Thursday.

Police were not immediately available for comment on the report, which cited a secret document police submitted to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz (search).

The newspaper said that contrary to their public declarations, police don't expect most settlers to leave voluntarily.

While not speculating on what form the resistance might take, police are preparing for a variety of possibilities, including resisters unleashing attack dogs, building trenches, blocking roads with tree trunks and spikes, and hurling hot oil, paint and rocks from rooftops.

More extreme scenarios envision settlers firing weapons, detonating explosives, throwing firebombs and arming themselves with gas canisters.

One scenario even has settlers barricading themselves inside buildings and threatening mass suicide in a Waco, Texas-type situation, the newspaper said.

In that 1993 standoff, nearly 80 people were killed when U.S. government agents stormed the compound of the Branch Davidian (search) religious cult. Law enforcement agencies say an inferno at the site was a mass suicide.

Police are also preparing for more moderate, predictable forms of protest, such as sit-down strikes, traffic disruption, and barricades, Yediot Ahronot said.

The newspaper also said police want to shorten the duration of the evacuation from eight weeks to four weeks in Gaza, where 21 settlements are to be dismantled, and to one week in the West Bank, where four are to be abandoned.

Meanwhile, the Maariv daily reported that soldiers practiced razing settlers' houses in a recent drill. Participating soldiers voiced reservations about taking part in the evacuation, and in particular, about demolishing synagogues, the newspaper said.

The government still hasn't decided whether to destroy Israeli buildings or leave them intact. Opponents of demolition, such as Vice Premier Shimon Peres (search), say the destruction of buildings and businesses would only deepen Palestinian bitterness. Proponents say it would spare Israelis the sight of Palestinian flags flying on former Jewish property.