Israel is hinting that its Gaza Strip evacuation could be brought forward. Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert says that would be a good idea in the light of the protests.
Pro-settler demonstrators abandoned their attempt to reach the largest group of Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip last night after police blocked their march. Organisers said it was not the right time to take on the army or the police. Led by ultra nationalist rabbis, about 6,000 protesters had been penned into the village of Kfar Maimon for three days. They had hoped to reach the Gush Katif settlement block and disrupt its closure, part of Israel’s complete withdrawal from Gaza due to start on August 15th. As many young protestors headed home, settler leaders said they still hoped to get thousands of people to the settlements to reinforce the 8,500 Israelis who live in isolation from 1.3 million Palestinians. Meanwhile, in the West Bank, where about 600 of the almost 400,000 Israelis will be evacuated, a group of settlers has stabbed a 12-year-old Palestinian boy to death. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s camp has been buoyed by parliament’s easy defeat yesterday of bills that would have delayed the withdrawal by up to a year.