With just a week to go before Israel begins forcibly evacuating settlers from Gaza, the nation’s president has asked for their forgiveness. Amid fears of an overspill of violence, Moshe Katsav went live on television and radio to address the Israeli people. He spoke directly to settlers, urging them to respect the government’s decision to withdraw from the territory.He told them the acts of extremists were weakening their position but added that he identified with their pain. But as the president spoke, tens of thousands were gathering at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for a massive prayer rally – begging divine intervention to stop the pullout going ahead. It involves the evacuation of over 8,000 Israelis from all 21 settlements in Gaza and hundreds more from four enclaves in the West Bank. Settler leaders say the move will rob them of their biblical birthright and reward Palestinian militants.