Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

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10 Av 5764 - July 28, 2004 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Tens of Thousands form Protest Chain to link Gush Katif with Jerusalem
by Yated Ne'eman Staff

An estimated 130,000 people formed a human chain that stretched 90 kilometers (55 miles) from Gaza to Jerusalem to protest the disengagement plan. It was said to be the third longest such chain in history.

Police did not allow the protesters to stand in the road from Shaar Hagai until the Sakharov Gardens entrance to Yerushalayim since there is not enough room on the road shoulders. Organizers of the event said that more than 200,000 participated. The event was specifically scheduled for the seventh of Av, two days before Tisha B'Av, a day of mourning for the destruction of the First and Second Temples.

In Jerusalem, at the top of Jaffa Road, a group of 53 Independent Baptists from the United States held hands and sang "Don't give away Gush Katif, Sharon."

Some thirty MKs participated including Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin and Likud Minister Natan Sharansky. MKs from the National Union and the National Religious Party also participated in the event.

Police mobilized thousands of officers, reinforced by more than 1,000 private security guards, to patrol the route, deal with snarled traffic and prevent any attempt to create a disturbance. Motorists were advised to take alternate routes. Nearly 900 buses were rented to bring people to various points along the route.

Just about the time the protest was ending, Palestinian terrorists wounded six Israeli children and a soldier in two separate attacks Sunday on Gush Katif, demonstrating the vulnerability of the heavily fortified enclaves.

Internal Security Minister Tzachi Hanegbi also noted mounting concern at the possibility of a groundswell of targeted attacks on Palestinians by far-right Jews.

In a briefing to the Cabinet on Sunday, Maj. Gen. Aharon Ze'evi-Farkash said that the chaos in the PA is a result of internal fighting over who will control the region once Israel leaves. Ze'evi pointed to a number of other causes for the chaos in Gaza, including pressure for reform coming from such countries as Egypt and Jordan, as well as from the international community, made manifest in UN special envoy Terje Roed-Larsen's recent criticism of Arafat and the PA.

In Ze'evi's analysis, more and more Palestinians are coming to the conclusion that they are losing a lot more in this conflict than Israel. He said Israel's ability to effectively fight terrorism, coupled with the fact that neither Israeli society nor its economy has crumbled under the weight of the violence, is causing acute Palestinian frustration.

When asked whether this chaos will lead to significant changes in the PA, Ze'evi said the situation is very complex, and it is difficult to know what each new day will bring. In the meantime, he said, the chaos is primarily concentrated in Gaza, and has not yet spilled over into Judea and Samaria. When that happens, he intimated, the situation may change significantly.

Some 60 percent of the Palestinian population is living below the poverty line, as opposed to 23 percent before the outbreak of the violence nearly four years ago. In addition, unemployment has climbed during this period from 12 percent to 27 percent.

"If there is one country in the region where I believe there is a real danger [of being overthrown], it is Saudi Arabia," Ze'evi told the cabinet. Ze'evi said he would not be surprised if there are "deep changes" in Saudi Arabia within the coming year.

Ze'evi said the dangers facing Saudi Arabia are due to its "lack of willingness to truly deal with terror." He said it is no longer enough for the Saudis to continue to say the Mossad is behind various terror attacks in the kingdom.


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