Israeli rightists have been holding another mass rally, this time in Tel Aviv, as the countdown to Monday’s pullout from Gaza continues.Tens of thousands of radical Jews opposed to the enforced abandonment of settler homes in Gaza, gathered in Rabin Square for a three-hour protest on Thursday. Months of demonstrations and other acts of defiance have failed to keep the Israeli prime minister from persuing the policy to close all 21 settlements in Gaza and four on the West bank. Polls do show a narrow majority of Israelis back Ariel Sharon’s stategy to defuse the conflict with the Palestinians by conceeding some of the occupied land, but the settlers and their supporters are bitterly opposed. While the Israeli government may not have everyone on board, Hamas has made life difficult for the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. In open defiance of the leader, the militant Palestinian group, which refuses to disarm, has held its own military-style rally in celebration of the staged pullout.
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