Mass Civil Disobedience Campaign to Begin on Monday

On Monday, a "test run" of massive civil disobedience against the disengagement plan will be held. Dozens of intersections across the country are scheduled to be blocked in the late afternoon.

, | updated: 12:39

"If I had to predict," says Shai of Jerusalem, one of the organizers, "I would say that the country is going to be stopped up on Monday afternoon. We've had tons of phone calls and people taking flyers to distribute all over the country, and there is a great desire to take action to stop this plan."

The initiative is being held in response to the disengagement plan that was pushed through the government and Knesset by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. Despite having lost a Likud Party referendum on the matter by a 60-40 margin, and despite having no majority in the Cabinet until he fired two ministers just before the vote, and despite a Likud Party Convention decision against the plan, Sharon managed to eke out passage of the Evacuation/Compensation Law this past February with less than an absolute majority of the Knesset. Only 59 MKs voted in favor, including the 8 Arab-party MKs and 23 (of 40) from the Likud - the party that was swept into power on a platform opposing a retreat from Gaza.

At least two Knesset Members - Benny Elon and Aryeh Eldad (see below) - have since called for civil disobedience to fight the plan.

Silent protests have long been held at 31 important intersections around the country, and these are the most likely candidates for a total blockage on Monday afternoon. These junctions include four each in Jerusalem, Haifa and the Tel Aviv area, five in the Galilee, and others at Modiin, Kiryat Gat, Rehovot, Petach Tikvah, Ben Gurion International Airport, Be'er Sheva and elsewhere.

"We have several important goals on Monday," Shai told Arutz-7 today. "First of all, we want to strengthen and encourage the standing power of the residents of Gush Katif and northern Shomron. They need to know that we're not waiting for them to be closed in by government orders before we start being ready to be jailed... In addition, we have to always be on the offensive in this contest with the police; we have to initiate, not respond. We also wish to see how the public will respond - though I believe that they will respond much more strongly and firmly if it becomes 'for real.' ... Finally, we wish to disrupt the police preparations for the uprooting."

Many leaders in the campaign against the disengagement have noted that the police appear to be unprepared for the extent of the public resistance they will face. The fact that Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi has made a personal appeal to all retired police officers to take part in this summer's police work, for instance, is taken as a sign of the desperate situation the police department faces.

"We are calling upon people not to be afraid to be arrested," Shai said. "However, there might be a problem in that we have heard that Sharon has said that the police should not arrest us. This might mean that there will be less arrests and more hospitalizations, if you understand me. Even though we have called upon our people to tie their hands with an orange ribbon [orange is the official color of the struggle to save Gush Katif - ed.], we know the police to have been very free with their violence in previous incidents."

In addition to 30,000 flyers describing Monday's event that have been distributed, with more on the way, and aside from the thousands of pamphlets describing the philosophy of the struggle in detail, many thousands of papers have been printed to be given out to drivers stuck on the roads. The papers read:

"Honored Driver! We are sorry for the temporary inconvenience. We are not fighting against you - but we must stop this plan before it's too late. UPROOTING is not just the evacuation of settlements and a blow at the residents; it's also a calamity - morally, nationally, militarily, and economically. Is it conceivable that after 2,000 years of Exile, Jews would come to expel Jews in our own Land? We must stop it now - for the sake of your nation, your children and your grandchildren."

MK Eldad, a university professor, originally called for civil disobedience at a giant rally in Gush Katif two weeks ago, after completing a 13-day march of 220 kilometers (137 miles) from northern Samaria to Gaza. "We are fighting for our homes," he told the crowds. "If [security forces] close Gush Katif, no one will travel in Israel. We will stop the country. No one will fly, no one will travel and no one will walk, if Jews are not allowed to live in every place in the Land of Israel."

He called on government employees not to be "cogs in a machine of destruction," and told the crowd to be prepared to be arrested and go to jail for breaking the new government law that prohibits crowds from gathering in Gaza during the planned evacuation.

Eldad later elaborated for Arutz-7: "I see it as a democratic right and moral obligation of a citizen in a democratic country to refuse to take part in immoral commands. If Sharon can say that even a soldier who cannot fulfill an order should say so to his commander and be willing to pay the price, then all the more so should public clerks and employees do so. Regular citizens who see a road on which trucks will travel to expel the Jews should sit there and block it, and not take part in any way in this destruction..."

"Civil disobedience," Eldad explained, "is everything that is not violent in which people say that they are not taking part in this machine that is embarking on its path to perpetrate a historic national crime against the Jewish People. Everyone in his own way: A clerk can tear up a paper that he received and say he's not taking part; a teacher can teach that a state cannot legislate racist laws, even if he is fired for it; and another can say that [Histadrut Labor Union chief] Amir Peretz threatened to close down the country several times over money, without being blamed for causing bloodshed - but those whose most basic beliefs are being threatened who say that if someone can't travel from one place to another [when the government closes the roads in preparation for the expulsion] or reach their homes in Gush Katif and northern Shomron, then no one can travel anywhere - they are not permitted to do so?"

Sources in Gush Katif report that all policemen studying in various courses and educational institutions will complete their courses early, on May 31, 2005. All police vacation days for this summer have also been canceled.