Daily Israel Report

Disengagement Protestors Block Tel Aviv Highway Almost an Hour

Anti-expulsion protestors successfully blocked the Ayalon Highway at the busy Kibbutz Galuyot junction for 54 minutes during evening rush-hour. Traffic jams continued for over an hour afterwards.
First Publish: 3/15/2005, 2:26 PM / Last Update: 3/14/2005, 7:56 PM

The protestors, who blocked the Tel Aviv area highway on the north-bound lanes near the entrance to Tel Aviv, were even joined by some motorists who were stuck in the traffic. At least two others responded violently toward the demonstrators. The latter distributed flyers explaining to drivers that while they apologize for the disruption, life cannot continue as usual as Jews face expulsion from their homes and a terror state is being created.

Police eventually arrived at the scene, including the notoriously violent Yassam unit, and arrested 18-20 protestors. The others were able to run away, though the police have some of their photos.

The police brought 11 adults before a Tel Aviv District Court judge today, as well as four minors to a children's court. The police requested that they be held under house arrest, but the courts agreed only to restrict them to their home communities for a month.

Moshe Feiglin, who organized similar protests against the Oslo Accords some ten years ago, justified last night's act. He told Army Radio this morning, "At the height of our protests, I was at Ben Gurion Airport when a stewardess asked me, 'Are you Feiglin?' I said yes, and she said, 'Look, I'm a leftist, even an extreme leftist, but I want you to know that before you started these demonstrations, I had no idea that there was anything wrong with Oslo. I thought everything was fine...'"

One participant told Arutz-7, “The precision and organization of the more than a hundred people who took part in this was incredible. We were in the street for about 30 minutes before police or press even arrived.”

The man, a non-observant Jew, said he was alarmed at the fact that news photographers and cameramen refused to take pictures of him because he was not wearing a kippah (skullcap). He said they focused instead on protestors who were visibly religious. “I think the aspect of this protest most obscured by the media is that it crossed boundaries." he said. "Even some drivers stuck in traffic got out of their car and bodily protected protestors from the police brutality.”

The demonstrators were disciplined and didn’t lose their cool, he said. “There was not a shred of violence on the part of the protestors, who had agreed amongst themselves in advance to disperse once the police arrived.”

Tel Aviv Police Chief David Tzur told Channel One TV that it was very difficult for police to get to the site and extinguish the tires. “Tonight demonstrated that if people want to block major highways in Israel, it is impossible to stop them,” he said. The police had apparently been expecting a road-blocking, but were deployed in a different area. "In this type of cat-and-mouse game, the advantage lies with the side that initiates," a police official said.

A number of major traffic routes around the country have been blocked by anti-disengagement demonstrations in recent weeks.

Maariv reported that protest organizers fooled police and intelligence agencies who are closely monitoring right-wing activists. Activists reportedly sent bogus SMS messages and emails to each other saying the road blocked would be near the Aluf Sadeh interchange - resulting in large numbers of police being on hand in that region while the actual protest site was miles away. Other reports stated that even the bus driver who brought the protestors didn't know his ultimate destination.

Disregarding the fact that the protestors came from various towns on both sides of the Green Line, the usually soft-spoken Yossi Beilin (Yahad/Meretz) harshly attacked what he called the "settlers' disturbances." He said, "The same people who have ruined our lives for 38 years now seek to harm us directly as they face evacuation, but the sane majority will not give in to the settler rioting."

A video clip of the blocked freeway can be viewed by clicking here.