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Disengagement Leads to Escalating Societal Tensions

Policemen are patrolling in ever greater numbers in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and in between; rumors of road-blockings and school-lockings abound, and Ehud Barak uses his visit in Gush Katif to warn...
First Publish: 4/15/2005, 9:49 AM / Last Update: 4/14/2005, 10:53 AM

... of schemes to kill the Prime Minister.

Residents of Gush Katif expressed bitterness at former Prime Minister Ehud Barak for taking advantage of his visit there yesterday to make incendiary announcements to the press. "Barak toured the area," writes Katif.net, "and experienced the residents and their successful enterprise at their best, met with them and heard their problems - and then his response to the media was, 'There are Jews who are planning to murder the Prime Minister, and they should be arrested and stopped as quickly as possible.'"

"If visits like this are designed merely to give a stage for politicians and their ilk, we must think twice whether to accept them during these times," recommends Katif.net.

Also yesterday, two youths penetrated heavy security at an officers' training course ceremony in Latrun. They ran up to the stage, where Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon was sitting, and unfurled a large anti-disengagement banner reading, "Jews do not expel Jews." Yaalon's guards and a military police officer immediately jumped on the two and forcibly removed them from the area.

The youths were taken to the Jerusalem District Police station and released, and police say they will be charged.

A senior IDF officer said that the incident shows that the security precautions in the IDF have collapsed. Military Police Brig.-Gen. Micha'el Bar'el said that the army does not take this lightly, and will conduct an investigation.

Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz toured the Machpelah Cave in Hevron yesterday, and was greeted unpleasantly by right-wing activists. They yelled out at him, "Dictator! Why do you shut our mouths? Where is freedom of expression?" Policemen on the scene removed the hecklers from the site.

Travelers along the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway last night said that groups of policemen were deployed every few kilometers along the route, and in Jerusalem as well. The police are on guard against attempts to block the highways, as disengagement opponents have done several times in the past few weeks.

Earlier this week, expulsion opponents padlocked 170 schools in central Israel, causing thousands of teachers and students to wait outside while police and fire department personnel broke the locks and allowed them in. Posters on each school gate declared, "It's not educational to close schools, but it's even more so to destroy them permanently, as in Gush Katif." Education Minister Limor Livnat called for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.

A letter of support for those engaged in civil disobedience has garnered 100 signatures within a few hours in Gush Katif. The letter reads,
"We, many citizens of Gush Katif, see it as a positive sign that there are those in the Nation of Israel who are people of truth and self-sacrifice... road-blockers, suitcase-placers, school-lockers and those who say they will refuse the illegal orders to expel us... We reject the notion that these activities damage the image of Gush Katif residents. Image is important in a democratic society, but in a cruel and dark regime like the Sharon regime, we must instead fight selflessly, without violence but also without considerations of public image..."

Roni Bakshi, who disseminated the letter, says he is surprised at the large amount of people who signed their support. "The letter expresses a point of view that has not been heard in Gush Katif as of yet," he said, "and I am sure that many more people will soon sign up as well."