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Swelling Grassroots Support For Gush Katif And Shomron

100 simultaneous demonstrations were held last night in favor of Gush Katif and northern Shomron, involving close to 200,000 people from Kiryat Shmonah in the north to Eilat in the south.

First Publish: 10/17/2004, 8:35 AM / Last Update: 10/15/2004, 10:48 AM

One hundred simultaneous demonstrations were held last night in favor of Gush Katif and northern Shomron, and against Prime Minister Sharon's disengagement/expulsion plan. A total of close to 200,000 people participated in the rallies, which were held from Kiryat Shmonah in the north to Eilat in the south.

The central event was held in Jerusalem, not far from the Prime Minister's residence, where many thousands of people converged after participating earlier in local rallies. Arutz-7's Kobi Sela served as Master of Ceremonies, and switched off between introducing speakers and musicians, speaking via video hook-up with various other pro-Gush Katif rallies across the country, and playing a recording of Ariel Sharon from several years ago.

The recording, heard several times throughout the evening, featured Sharon's blaring voice exhorting residents of Yesha threatened at the time with expulsion by the Rabin Government, "I want to ask all of you not to show weakness! They are conducting polls now, and they're asking whether you would be willing to evacuate your home in exchange for high compensation and another apartment somewhere else. If they ask you that, tell them, we're planning to buy another apartment [in Yesha]! Send them home!"

In response to the Disengagement [hitnatkut, in Hebrew] Authority established by Sharon and Yonatan Bassi, the residents of Gush Katif have established a Hit'habrut Authority, which will try to promote Israel's "joining together." Rafi Seri, head of the new body, was the last speaker in Jerusalem last night, and said, "We have done something very great today. If we believe in our power to change things, we truly will change very much."

The Yesha Council was also very pleased with yesterday's results: "It was a great success. These 100 simultaneous rallies across the country under the motto of 'Israel Doesn't Want to Disengage' proved that the People of Israel want to reconnect back to their roots."

A Channel Two newsman was heard asking one of the organizers, "Where do you guys keep coming up with these great ideas? First the Human Chain, now this - what's next?"

Each of the local rallies was organized by a local anti-disengagement team headquartered in the various cities. Seri says that these teams will continue to function, "and legally and legitimately, with deafening quiet, we will bring out the true desire of this nation. We will need very, very much help; it won't be enough just to come to Jerusalem and say you were here." The plan is to send hundreds of people, in the first stage, to visit Israelis in their homes all over the country, and explain the advantages of not implementing the expulsion/retreat plan.

Seri also read aloud a letter he received from Jonathan Pollard, who is into his 19th year of a life prison sentence in the U.S. for passing classified information to Israel. Pollard's message quoted the inspiring words of the Maccabees of old, and stated,
"It is true that I am in exile and sitting behind bars. But you, my brothers and sisters, are prisoners too. We have all been abandoned. We have all been betrayed. Just as I was thrown out of the Embassy and into a pit, you are facing a similar fate. We must unite as a People and do what is right. Unity is our strength. When all Israel unites, G-d Himself leads us and His blessing is upon us. There is nothing to fear, except G-d.
"This Land is ours! No one has the right to disengage the People of Israel from any part of the Land of Israel! ... Make no mistake. This is not an ideological battle. This is not a political struggle. This is not a fight over borders or fences. This is an existential war to determine who will rule over The Land and People of Israel - G-d or man...
"This is our inheritance, a divine gift from the Sovereign Ruler of the World. Now we have returned. We are not leaving! May G-d guide our words, deeds and actions in the struggle to protect and defend all of the Land and all of the People of Israel."

Other speakers included Miriam Adler, mother of six children in the relatively isolated but growing northern Shomron community of Sa-Nur; children from Atzmona in Gush Katif; and a resident of Sderot, practically adjacent to northern Gaza, who drew much applause and stated emphatically that an Israeli withdrawal from the area would be a catastrophe.

Some 1,000 people attended the Haifa rally, and the Jerusalem participants were treated to live video scenes and voices from the demonstrations in Rehovot, Tel Aviv, Efrat, Hatzor, Bat Yam, Ofakim and many others - including New York City.