Thousands of people have continued their voyage to the southern Gaza Strip to oppose the government’s planned pullout from the territories. Defying thousands of police deployed to stop their progression, the protestors who have come from all over Israel, met in the Israeli town of Netivot on Monday.
Their aim is to reach the Gush Katif settlement by Wednesday, where they will join a group of hard-core settlers who have vowed to resist evacuation. In a rare move, Israel has deployed 20,000 police and soldiers who have been placed on the highest state of emergency alert. There have been repeated scuffles between demonstrators and security forces along the way. The withdrawals from Gaza and a very small part of the West Bank have infuriated ultra-nationalists who say Israelis are giving up a biblical birthright. But the protestors do not have the support of the Israeli public. Polls indicate most Israelis back prime minister Ariel Sharon’s plan, which includes the evacuation of all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and four out of 120 in the West Bank.