Thousands of Jewish settlers and their supporters have been protesting against Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank.
Organisers estimate that as many as 50,000 people travelled to the southern Israeli town of Sderot, with thousands more stuck outside the town.
They were met by 30,000 soldiers and police who were deployed to prevent themmarching on the largest Jewish settlement bloc in Gaza, Gush Katif. Activists are pursuing their battle until the bitter end, sporting the colour orange – adopted by the protest movement.
For them, the Gaza withdrawal is a betrayal of their biblical birthright and a reward for the Palestinian uprising. Two weeks ago security forces stopped a similar protest from reaching Gaza enclaves.
Following the rally, many of the protesters boarded buses for the town of Ofakim where they say they will continue their protest.