MATI WAGNER and Dan Izenberg, THE JERUSALEM POST Feb. 24, 2005
Under the banner, “Arik Sharon, you are bringing upon us a Holocaust,” and with pictures of the Lubavitcher Rebbe everywhere, thousands of demonstrators gathered Thursday night at the Jerusalem International Convention Center to protest the evacuation of settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria.
The demonstration was organized by the World Headquarters for Saving the Nation and the Land, headed by Rabbi Shalom Dovber Wolpo, a Chabad rabbi from Kiryat Gat.
Mention of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and cabinet ministers by the speakers triggered boos. Wolpo repeatedly silenced the crowd by threatening to stop the rally immediately unless the catcalls stopped.
Among the speakers were Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, National Jewish Front leader Baruch Marzel, former MK Elyakim Haetzni and Noam Arnon, a spokesman for the Jewish community in Hebron.
Rabbi Shalom Dov Kalmanson, a Chabad rabbi from Cincinnati, Ohio, appealed to US President George W. Bush, saying: “G-d appointed a leader to battle against evil, and you launched a war on Afghanistan and won quickly. You moved onto Iraq and won a surprisingly quick victory. But today you’re having problems in Iraq. I believe one of the reasons is because of the road map. No man in history has ever forced Jews to battle Jews. It is a horrendous precedent.”
Noam Livnat, the brother of Education Minister Limor Livnat, said: “The time for praying is over. We all must go out of our houses and out onto the streets and do everything in our power to stop the government. If you and your family can move to Jewish settlement in Gaza and northern Samaria, do it. If you can block intersections, do it. I want every one of you to sign up at least 50 family members, neighbors and friends on a petition [against the plan].”
Leaflets that were handed out during the convention stated that in each settlement there are “more weapons, ammunition and skilled individuals than during the Warsaw ghetto uprising.”
Nearly all of the rabbis who spoke during the event called on members of Israel’s security forces to refuse to obey evacuation orders.
Furthermore, soldiers who had already proclaimed that they would do so, were called to the stage to receive a citation “open on behalf of the people of Israel for their refusal to take part in orders expulsion and destruction.”
Earlier Thursday, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni announced her intentions to propose that the cabinet establish a new unit to handle illegal [Read Free Speech] protest activity against the disengagement plan.
Livni said the attorneys appointed to the unit would devote all their time to preparing indictments against suspected lawbreakers, appearing in court and dealing with appeals from either side. [What happened to Israel as democrcy with free speech, press, and the right to protest government poicy. We see the emergence of a police state.]
The unit’s headquarters will be in the national office of the Justice Ministry and will be headed by Shai Nitzan, assistant to the state attorney for special projects.
The unit will deal with all kinds of illegal protest, including incitement to violence, sedition and all manifestations of violence, such as blocking roads, illegal demonstrations and attacks on civil servants, including soldiers and policemen.
The unit will work in coordination with the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the police and the army. Since being appointed justice minister, Livni has sought to coordinate the activities of all the law enforcement agencies responsible for dealing with illegal protests, and has held several meetings with the other agencies involved.
The unit will be responsible for handling all complaints of illegal protest activity. It will be responsible for recommending which cases should be prosecuted and will prepare the indictments and see to it that they are filed in court. The unit will initiate orders to the police to investigate cases brought to its attention.
The unit will have branches in every district office. They will be responsible to the local office but will receive their instructions from the central office in Jerusalem.
Livni is due to bring her proposal to the cabinet on Sunday.