Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has blasted Jewish settlers, after they clashed with soldiers in Gaza earlier this week during an operation to demolish abandoned homes. "I am very aware of attempts by a small minority of lawbreakers…who wish to use force against the Israeli army and other security forces," Sharon said in a speech. "This minority does not represent the settlers. We must all remember that the call to disobedience and attempts to disrupt lives of Israelis endangers the existence of Israel as a Jewish and democratic nation…And I believe that the legal authorities will take all the necessary measures to stop this wild behavior." Sharon used to apply that kind of rhetoric to the Palestinians. But the settlers who were once his strongest supporters are now his most bitter opponents.