Thousands of right-wing Israeli demonstrators defied a police ban to take part in a Monday evening rally against disengagement from the Gaza Strip, but the crowd was much smaller than protest organizers had predicted.
More than 20,000 people attended the rally, according to leaders oif the Yesha Council, the demonstration’s organizers.  Earlier, they had estimated that more than 100,000 people would attend..
After the rally, the organizers were planning a two-day demonstration, including a march from the southern Israeli town of Netivot to the Gush Katif settlement bloc. Before the rally, organizers had predicted that more than 40,000 would join the march.
The Israeli police had banned the demonstration after the Yesha Council failed to guarantee that it would prevent demonstrators from entering Gush Katif in violation of an order declaring the area a ‘closed military zone.’
After declaring the rally illegal, police revoked the driver licenses of bus drivers who were attempting to bring demonstrators to it.
Israel Radio reported that a large number of right-wing protestors who were barred from riding the busses attempted to blockade some major roads in Jerusalem.
Responding to reports that the decision to bar the demonstration was dictated by high-ranking political officials, Moshe Karadi, chief of the Israeli police, said that police reached the decision to limit the number of protesters strictly from professional considerations.
‘We used our authority within the framework of the law and we could not allow an illegal protest to take place here in this area,’ Karadi told reporters at a news briefing at an Israel Defense Forces base near Netivot.