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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July 2005, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
Israeli press at odds over protest

Newspapers in Israel reflect the split in the country between those who support the Gaza protesters and those who consider them a menace.

Some commentators argue they have a democratic right to protest against the government plan to withdraw from Gaza while others see them as undermining the peace process with the Palestinians.

The top circulation Yediot Aharonot is adamant that the authorities "must halt them".

"The disengagement was approved by a government decision and a Knesset [parliament] vote. The executive authorities should do their best to implement it."

The Yediot editorial argues that if the protesters try to use unreasonable means to make their point, the government should counter "using reasonable force with the power to arrest and punish".

The rabbis are shattering, with their own hands, the covenant between religious Zionism and the state

A Haaretz editorial condemns the appeal by two former chief rabbis to Israeli troops, calling on them to refuse to obey the order prohibiting protesters from entering the Gaza Strip.

"It is a blatant act of incitement and political sedition. The rabbis are drawing a false comparison between the disengagement and the desecration of the Sabbath. In so doing, they are misleading the public and shattering, with their own hands, the covenant between religious Zionism and the state."

But commentator Dan Margalit in Maariv cautions that "democracy has never promised an easy life for those in charge of the rule of law".

He says the settlers should not have been stopped from meeting in Netivot "even if they intended to enter [the Gaza settlement of] Gush Katif later - indeed police must be prevented from using force".

'Sacred mission'

Another Maariv commentator, Ben Kaspit, fears that the "war drums are beating". "The forces are gathering and deploying against each other."

He says the settlers "are special. No smokers, polite, well-equipped and drilled. They have enlisted for a sacred mission, struggling for the unity of the country."

He calls on all sides to show "much responsibility and not a little wisdom to prevent the expected clash in the coming days".

An analysis piece in the Jerusalem Post says that Police Inspector-General Moshe Karadi "tried playing the settlers".

The victor has yet to be declared in this round of disengagement boxing
Jerusalem Post

"As he held marathon talks with them to try to reach a compromise, he kept his ace up his sleeve and pulled it out at the last minute, claiming police had received new intelligence information indicating the settlers would set up a tent camp to prevent disengagement."

"Karadi's flipflopping was caused by two conflicting interests - the desire to allow people their democratic right to protest and the need to ensure disengagement would not be hampered by the tens of thousands of marchers," the Post analysis continues.

"While the victor has yet to be declared in this round of disengagement boxing, police have at least one fact straight: With the evacuation still almost a month away, the cat-and-mouse games they played with the settlers over the past week are anything but over."

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.


Anger over Gaza pullout protests
30 Jun 05 |  Middle East

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