Conflicting messages regarding Israel's West Bank and Gaza settlements emerged on 27 November as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and deputy defence minister Zeev Boim sent out opposing statements. Sharon said that Israel would evacuate certain settlements in the Occupied Territories, as he had indicated days earlier. 'It is clear that in the end we will not be in all the places where we are now,' he told reporters. However, Sharon said that the government would speed up the building of the controversial 'security fence', claiming that 'it is essential to the security of the state'. Sharon has been under increased international pressure to halt the building of the barrier and dismantle settlements (MEED 24:11:03
Hours earlier, Boim announced that the government was in the process of legalising some of the 'illegal' settlements set up over the past three years. Boim told local radio that the finalisation process was near completion (MEED 23:10:03).
The news came as Israeli Defence Force (IDF) soldiers on shot dead four Palestinians in two separate incidents in the Gaza Strip. In the first incident, three Palestinian men, suspected of setting up a roadside ambush, were chased by IDF forces and shot near the Kissufim border crossing. In a second incident in the Gaza Strip, a nine-year old boy was accidentally shot dead by Israeli gunfire from a watchtower in Rafah. Israeli officials have set up an investigation.