AnÃ‚Â erstimated 40,000 to 50.000 pullout opponents conducted an anti-disengagement protest at the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Western Wall plazaÃ¢â‚¬Â in Jerusalem on Wednesday evening,Ã‚Â according to Israeli sources.
Additional protestors had planned to join the protest but Ã¢â‚¬Å“were caught in major traffic jamsÃ¢â‚¬Â around the Old City of Jerusalem, Israeli Radio reported.
Former Israeli chief rabbis Avraham Shapira, Mordechai Eliyahu, and Ovadia Yosef, the spiritual leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, participatedÃ‚Â in the protest.
The police said that they did not expect any Ã¢â‚¬Å“unusual incidents,Ã¢â‚¬Â but increased their presence and sealed off all streets around the Old City.
Meanwhile, foes of the pullout plan are planning anotherÃ‚Â large anti-disengagement protest on Thursday at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv.
A senior police chief in Tel Aviv said that Ã¢â‚¬Å“a gathering of tens of thousands might be a convenient target for attacks,Ã¢â‚¬Â adding that the police expect higher attendance than at other recent anti-pullout protests. He added, however,Ã‚Â that the planned Tel Aviv demonstration worries the police less than earlier protests in Kfar Mainoun and Ofakim.
The police also expect hundreds of anti-pullout protestors to arrive in Jerusalem near the al-Aqsa mosque area, which is expected to elicit strong Palestinian reactions. The police will decide in the coming days the extent of police deployment in the area, and whether to restrict entry.
According to Israeli police reports, Palestinian groups might attempt to target one of the protests, and Muslim worshipers at the mosque might feel threatened by the huge presence of the protestors, especially amidst the tense situation that emerged after last week’s Shfa-Amr shooting attack, where a settler-soldier killed four Israel Arabs.