"Clash of Thousands" Feared at Gush Katif March

The IDF and police are sending 12,000 soldiers & policemen to guard today's planned march - and to prevent the marchers from making their way to Gush Katif. The feared clash will not occur today.

Hillel Fendel, | updated: 10:24

The three-day event begins in Netivot this afternoon with a prayer rally, and the expected thousands will then begin marching towards Kfar Maimon, some ten kilometers (6 miles) away. The marchers will continue tomorrow morning towards the southwest, with the goal of reaching Gush Katif, or at least the Kisufim Crossing entrance thereof, on Wednesday.

Police officials and representatives from the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (Yesha) met yesterday to coordinate the event, and reached an agreement on most of the issues. Abruptly last night, however, the police announced that the opening ceremony would be approved, but the march would be illegal. The Yesha Council announced in turn that the march would take place as planned, but with two conditions: No violence, and wherever the police stop them, there they sit down and encamp.

The police announced today that they would not stop the marchers on their way to Kfar Maimon. In practice, however, the police blocked thousands of cars and buses from reaching the site of the rally.

Council officials said that the police decision not to allow the march in its entirety is a "surrender to the dictates of the Sharon family." Yesha Council head Bentzy Lieberman told Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi that the opponents of the disengagement "have been left with no way of protesting legitimately, because everything we try becomes outlawed."

The 12,000 policemen and soldiers set out last night and this morning to deploy in the area. Some of them will be stationed in the fields around the Gaza Strip, in an attempt to prevent Jews from entering Gush Katif.

Leading rabbis, Knesset Members and public figures will head the march. This is in order to grant it a stature that it might not have otherwise had, and to prevent violence between the police and marchers.

Dozens of youths made their way to Netivot and Kfar Maimon this morning to prepare for the march. They will be erecting temporary structures to house and sleep the expected tens of thousands.




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