Opponents of Israeli withdrawal of settlers from Gaza have been massing in downtown Tel Aviv for a last major protest before next week’s pullout.
The gathering place bears the name of the Israeli left’s peace icon Yitzhak Rabin, who was assassinated in 1995 by a Jewish extremist. The withdrawal aims to end nearly 40 years of occupation on the coastal strip. Israel plans to uproot all 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza, and four out of 120 enclaves in the West Bank. The Israeli army will order settlers to abandon their homes on Monday. If they refuse they will be forcibly removed on Wednesday. The religious right condemns the plan, saying it forsakes Jewish claims to biblical land and rewards the Palestinian uprising. Around one quarter of a million settlers live in fortified enclaves among some four million Palestinians. Israel has sealed off the Gaza settlements to non-residents, to prevent an influx of radicals who have vowed to obstruct the pullout.