Rush hour traffic has been slowed to a crawl in Jerusalem as protesters stopped their cars in a sign of opposition to the government’s Gaza Strip withdrawal plan. Some frustrated drivers may have been seeing red, but the colour of the hour is orange – the ribbons are being worn by those who refuse to accept the pullout. As the campaign groups mobilise on the streets opinion polls continue to show that the majority of Israelis support the withdrawal. Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres says there is no room for negotiation or change: “Settlers don’t have a future in Gaza. So whatever’s happening right now is a passing experience and they will be out in accordance with decisions of the parliament and cabinet.”
The operation to evacuate all 21 settlements in Gaza and four others in the West Bank is due to begin in mid-August. But there is already confrontation in Gush Katif, where ultranationalist Jews have occupied derelict buildings on land they consider their Biblical birthright. On Sunday 20 people were injured as they tried to stop army bulldozers clearing the site in preparation for the pullout. One commander said soldiers would move in “when the time is right”. The protesters are promising a long fight ahead.