At least 20,000 Israeli soldiers will be deployed Monday evening to deal with a massive anti-pullout demonstration planned by settlers and right-wing activists.Ã‚Â The two-day march is expected to move towards the Gaza Strip despite a police order ruling the demonstration illegal.
The Yesha Council of Settlements, the settlers’ organization planning the protest, vowed to go ahead with the march even if the police do not give permission.
The Council said late Sunday night, after meeting with representatives of the police,Ã‚Â that it expects at least 100,000 people to be at the opening of the demonstration in the town of
40,000 pullout foes are then expected to march to the Kissufim crossing intoÃ‚Â the Gaza Strip and from there to the Gush Katif settlement bloc, which theyÃ‚Â plan to reach on Wednesday.
Despite the ban,Ã‚Â the police will apparently not try to prevent the march.
The police said they issued the ban after settler leaders refused requests to commit to the march’s route and duration and failed to satisfy the police with their ability to disperse the demonstrators after the march. Israeli police southern commander Uri Bar-Lev said earlier that the Yesha council had not applied for permission to conduct the march.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“It is clear that the police will not be able to help,Ã¢â‚¬Â a settler said after Sunday’s meeting, according to the Israeli online daily Ynetnews. Ã¢â‚¬Å“They are unable to make any decision because the place is under closure imposed by the prime minister.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Because of the ban, fears of violence between the police and army and the settlers have mounted. The policeÃ‚Â are primarily concerned that after the march tens of thousands of demonstrators will try to break through the roadblocks the police have set up to seal the Gaza Srip.
The settlersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ council, however,Ã‚Â pledged to station march monitors to prevent outbreaks of violence.
Bentzi Lieberman, Yesha Council head, said that the protest will be held legally, adding that the council does not plan to obstruct traffic or break through army checkpoints.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“But if the police donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t allow us to carry out our protest, we plan to hold a popular one,Ã¢â‚¬Â Lieberman added. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Scores of people want to tell the government that we will not support expulsion and uprooting of the settlers.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Meanwhile, the far-right Israeli group Ã¢â‚¬Å“National HomeÃ¢â‚¬Â called on the tens of thousands of marchers to destroy the army and police camp erected ahead of the upcoming pullout. The camp, called a Ã¢â‚¬Å“tent city,Ã¢â‚¬Â is located near Gama junction, two kilometers away from Kissufim crossing.
Saturday, soldiers arrested 12 of their colleagues who refused to follow orders to disperse 400 settlers who clashed with the army while attempting to infiltrate through the Kissufim border crossing. Eight were injured, including a soldier who suffered a broken leg.