Israeli army soldiers have taken part in a final training session ahead of the Gaza Strip withdrawal next Wednesday.
Around 10,000 men were involved in the exercise, which saw some troops pose as protesters and others deal with mock Palestinian rocket attacks. It comes amid fears the expected passive resistance to the withdrawal by some settlers may turn violent. Nearby many of the 9,000 Israelis living in the coastal strip have been getting ready for the move. Local rabbis will give the word for them to leave the land which some Jews consider to be their Biblical birthright. With tension mounting over the controversial withdrawal Israeli President Moshe Katzav has gone on TV to ask Israelis to forgive the government for the pull-out. He said he identified with their pain, but asked settlers to respect the decision and for the country to remain united. Katzav added that extremists were weakening the Israeli position. Meanwhile at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem thousands of right-wingers gathered to pray for divine intervention. Polls reveal that a majority of Israelis support the Gaza pullout plan.