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      Massive Anti-Disengagement Rally Begins, March Will Go On

      The massive anti-Disengagement protest in Netivot began Monday evening, albeit three hours late due to police efforts to prevent protesters from arriving for the rally.
      By Ezra HaLevi
      First Publish: 7/19/2005, 6:34 AM / Last Update: 7/18/2005, 8:21 PM

      The protesters began marching toward the community of Kfar Maimon, in the direction of Gush Katif, despite police refusal to authorize the march. The organizers of the rally, the Yesha Council and Mateh Meshutaf, are calling upon all who love the Land of Israel to join in the march on Tuesday and Wednesday.

      According to the protest organizers, some 50,000 participants have arrived thus far.

      Former Chief Rabbi of the State of Israel Mordechai Eliyahu arrived in Netivot by helicopter, telling Arutz-7 upon his arrival that he hopes and prays that the protest will lead the Prime Minister to “return to himself and not disengage from the nation.”

      Demonstrators continue to pour into the southern development town. A massive convoy from Jerusalem led by Rabbi Avraham Shapira is making its way toward the demonstration.

      The start of the rally was pushed off due to the police detainment of more than a thousand buses on their way to the rally. Almost 400 buses were stopped by police, their drivers’ licenses confiscated and passengers forced to exit the vehicles and search for other modes of transportation.

      Police are still manning roadblocks on Road #25 between the Gabim Junction and Kibbutz Sa’ad. Heavy traffic has resulted.

      Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra told Likud members that he had not ordered the obstruction of buses, indicating that the order came directly from Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.

      Justice Minister Tzipi Livni defended the move, saying the rally signified a significant threat to Israel’s democracy.

      As the evening news broadcast images of the rally, featuring dancing children and fervent prayer, police decided to back down from the decision to prevent protesters from arriving at Netivot.

      The Judea, Samaria and Gaza Council announced that as a result of the delays, the march from Netivot to the next stop will begin at 9:00pm. Marchers will be sleeping over at Kfar Maimon Monday night.

      Former Defense Minister Moshe Arens arrived in Netivot this afternoon to take part in the protest. Arens explained that the Jews of Gush Katif are heroes and that the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza will only encourage the terrorists.

      Arens said that he came to Netivot "in order to strengthen the residents and to help our heroic brethren in Gush Katif." He furthermore linked the Muslim terrorism in Europe to that in Israel, saying, "The terrorists who blow up here and in London know that through the Disengagement, they will be able to generate more terrorism."