Roads Jammed Throughout Israel as Protestors Take to Streets

"If you're arrested, you've won!" was the slogan of Monday's mass protests. Over 400 Israelis were arrested in acts of nationwide civil disobedience, in which 30 major thoroughfares were blocked.

, | updated: 23:36

An army of orange - the color of the anti-disengagement struggle - took to the streets, outsmarting and outmanning close to 4,000 police officers stationed across the country. This was the first round of major protests aimed at derailing the proposed disengagement plan this summer. Streets were closed, and traffic paralyzed for up to an hour in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Be'er Sheva, Haifa and elsewhere.

The organizers, many police officers and much of the media agreed that the project was a resounding success, proving that the police would not be able to handle both the disengagement and keeping law and order at the same time.

Arutz-7's in-depth radio coverage of the evening's protests, with correspondents reporting live from the field, can be heard as follows:

* Arutz-7's special broadcast: 'Civil Disobedience Hits the Streets'

* Right-click here to download the broadcast and choose "Save target as".

During the course of yesterday, the police uncovered various stashes of ready-for-burning tires around the country, and arrested or detained several activists, in preparation for the evening of traffic jams and disturbances. They did not succeed, however.

Organizers of the protests, from the Bayit Leumi (National Home) organization, disseminated tens of thousands of posters and pamphlets in the past week, calling upon the public to take part in the road-blockings wherever they could.

Last night, the organizers issued a statement calling the event a "dizzying success." The National Home statement said, "Congratulations to all the Land of Israel loyalists who went out with great dedication and blocked the roads. The preparations by the police and all their attempts to stop us did not succeed. Today, the People of Israel realize that the transfer affects every single person in the country."

"The police will not be able to prepare better than they did today," the statement reads. "In the event that areas of the Land of Israel are closed to Jewish travel, the whole country will be blocked up. We call upon everyone to whom the Land and People of Israel are dear to their heart to join the struggle."

The National Home pamphlet explained in brief the democratic concept of civil disobedience. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s letter is quoted as writing in a letter from prison:
We should never forget that everything Adolf Hitler did in Germany was "legal" and everything the Hungarian freedom fighters did in Hungary was "illegal." It was "illegal" to aid and comfort a Jew in Hitler's Germany. Even so, I am sure that, had I lived in Germany at the time, I would have aided and comforted my Jewish brothers.

"The basic principle of non-violent civil disobedience," the pamphlet states, "is that even in a democracy, there can be laws that though they were legislated in a most democratic manner, according to proper procedure, they are legal but immoral. Recent 20th-century history proves that even in the most democratic and legal manner, mankind can reach the most terrible ethical lows.

"Democracy is the 'rule of the people,' i.e., the making of decisions by representatives of all layers of the nation with consideration of the minority opinion. It is not the tyranny of the majority over the minority - and certainly not a dictatorial minority rule over the majority. Democracy is not electing a dictator once every four years so that he can do whatever he wants.

"The principle of non-violent civil disobedience is a mandatory tool to strengthen and preserve the democracy. Civil disobedience is the pulse of a democracy; it is not illegitimate, but precisely the opposite: the best way of preserving democracy and enabling its existence. There are basic civil rights that a democratic majority cannot nullify without ceasing to be a democracy. Civil disobedience is an important tool that signals to the democracy when it has strayed, by enabling a public that feels that its basic rights have been trampled upon to object to the 'rules of the game' and to violate the law, and thus rock the legitimacy of the regime's decisions and to lead to its replacement."

"One who breaks an unjust law must do so openly, lovingly, and with a willingness to accept the penalty," wrote Martin Luther King. "I submit that an individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for law."

Of the more than 400 people who were arrested last night, several dozen are being brought to court this morning for extension of their custody. The detainees were held in very difficult conditions, complaining this morning that they were held in a very crowded bus until 5 AM - men and women together, without food or drink, and without being allowed to go to the bathroom. They also said that the policemen kicked and cursed them - even those whose hands were tied.

Intersections and highways that were blocked included the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv highway at the Geha Junction and the entrance to the capital; Bar-Ilan and elsewhere in Jerusalem; Omer and Arad in the south; Shoket, Silver, Gevim, and Sderot junctions in the Negev; Somekh in the north; Modiin; and more.


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