JERUSALEM -- Israel's police said yesterday they would disarm Jewish militants who threaten violence ahead of a Gaza Strip pullout and assign nearly all field officers to remove settlers and control protests -- signs of mounting concern the withdrawal could turn bloody.
Jewish settlers said they would set up a military-style operation to try to block the evacuation, set for this summer -- partly through civil disobedience and partly by lobbying lawmakers to bring down the government.
The Palestinian prime minister, facing his own rebellion, promised a drastic overhaul of his Cabinet in what could be the start of long-sought overhauls. A vote on the new Cabinet, to be composed largely of professional appointees, was expected today.
Settler leaders have said they would use only passive resistance in their struggle against the pullout. But there are fears the most militant settlers might fire on Israeli security forces assigned to evacuate them.
Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra told Israel Radio that police would disarm Jewish settlers who urge violence to disrupt the pullout.
''Anyone who calls for using weapons or other illegal means, will be taken care of," Ezra said yesterday. ''We'll simply take their arms ahead of time. We don't have to wait for the [evacuation] date to take their weapons."
Virtually all settlers are armed, many carrying army-issue weapons in case of attack by Palestinian militants. Disarming even some of them would be unprecedented.
Emily Amrusy, a spokeswoman for the council of Jewish settlements, said no one has been informed that weapons would be confiscated.
Amrusy said she expected opponents of a withdrawal to mobilize at least 100,000 protesters to stage sit-down strikes in Gaza and elsewhere. Protesters will chain and handcuff themselves to boulders and other objects, she said.
''We will sit there, like sacks of potatoes," Amrusy said. ''They will need four policemen to dislodge each person. . . . We will make the evacuation so difficult that police will say it's impossible."
The army is expected to seal Gaza to protesters before the evacuation to reduce the resistance.
Israel is also evacuating four small settlements in the West Bank, and there is concern extremists will resist there, as well, much as they have fought attempts by soldiers to remove tiny unauthorized hilltop outposts.
Also yesterday, the army named Major General Dan Halutz as incoming chief of staff to replace Lieutentant General Moshe Yaalon, whose term was not extended by the customary year. Halutz is to take command before the pullout.
As air force commander, Halutz ignited controversy when he told a newspaper he sleeps well at night despite a 2003 bombing raid in Gaza that killed 14 civilians, many of them children, along with a targeted Hamas leader.
Police will not be understaffed for the pullout, police spokesman Gil Kleiman said.
''With what we have, it will be very difficult, but there is no question the disengagement will go off," Kleiman said.
Police will assign some 18,000 officers, or nearly the entire field force, to the withdrawal, including 2,500 unarmed police officers who will evacuate settlers who refuse to leave voluntarily, Kleiman said. Some 4,000 officers will be posted at passages into Gaza, and the rest will deal with demonstrations across the country, he said.
Settlers also plan to urge lawmakers to defeat the long-overdue 2005 budget, a move that would bring down the government and hold up the pullout indefinitely.