Thousands of right-wing Israelis attempt to start their planned anti-pullout march towards the Gush Katif settlement bloc in the Gaza Strip, Israeli sources reported Wednesday evening.
At least 20,000 Israeli police and troops poured into the Kfar Maimon rally campsite in the Negev,Ã‚Â where the march is going to start from.
Police and security personnel, equipped with water hoses, were encircling the protest encampment and preparing to stop the estimated 7,000 protesters from marching.
Protesters, who are planning to break through the western gate of Kfar Maimon, have been camping there since Monday night, when they began their biggest action against the disengagement plan.
The demonstrators are supposed to meet up with a convoy from Gush Katif. However, Israeli security forces halted the convoy at nearby Moshav Shuva, and thousands of police officers were deployed between the two towns.
‘I have no doubt there will be clashes,’ said a senior police official. ‘They’re likely to be violent and ugly. The big question is how many of the thousands of protesters will decide to clash with police forces and try to break through to Gush Katif.’
Israeli police banned the march, after the Yesha Council, the main organizer of the march, failed to ensure no violence and no violation of the law.
Since the Israeli government decided to seal the Gaza Strip to Israeli citizens, the march entering the Strip is a violation of the law.
Police said they do not expect settler leaders to be able to control the settlers.Ã‚Â Yesha Council settler leaders have told police the protesters have no intention of clashing with security forces.
The march started few hours after the Israeli Knesset rejected three bills to postpone the pullout with a 69 to 41 margin.
Israeli Prime Minsiter Ariel Sharon said, following the vote, that the Knesset voting in favor of the pullout proves that the Israeli public are also in favor of the pullout from Gaza Strip.