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Netanyahu Rips Gaza Withdrawal

By VOA News

Former Israeli Finance Minister Binyamin Netanyahu urged the Knesset to scrap next week's evacuation of the Gaza Strip, saying the territory would become a Palestinian terrorist base after the pullout is completed. Speaking Wednesday, Netanyahu told lawmakers they remained the only ones capable of stopping the withdrawal, which he referred to as "this evil." Sunday, Netanyahu quit the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, to protest the disengagement. He joined the fragile ruling coalition late last year as a tentative backer of the plan. Wednesday's address coincided with new polls showing Netanyahu would win a contest with Sharon to head the right-wing Likud party, if polls were held today. For his part, Sharon noted his rival's shift to oppose the withdrawal he once supported, and called the resignation an "evasion" of responsibility.

Mass Prayer Rally Against Expulsion Fills Jerusalem's Old City

By &

More than 250,000 people attended a massive prayer rally at the Western Wal, Judaism's holiest site, Wednesday to beg God to have mercy and annul Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's expulsion decree. See the video at mms://

Right wing activists reportedly are planning to use the rally and the masses that attendedaism's holiest site, in order to force large police forces to remain in the Temple Mount area. Activists said they were planning to hand out leaflets inviting the public to another Kfar Maimon-style event. However, this time settlers are invited to stay in a tent city in Jerusalem's Jewish Quarter for a lengthy period of time, from which they will attempt to proceed to the Temple Mount.

Flyers have been handed out calling on those who have been unable to reach Gush Katif to arrive with tents and food supplies at the Old City's Jewish Quarter in Jerusalem. A right wing protest organizer told Ynet that "whoever cannot reach the Gaza Strip or Northern Samaria is invited to do their part in Jerusalem. We are talking about a public cry for help to prevent a loss of control over the place holiest for the Jews. We want to make it so the police come and pray with us in Jerusalem instead of evicting Jews in another place. On the day they close Gush Katif, we will close Jerusalem," threatened the activist.

On Thursday, the Yesha Council plans on holding a mass rally at Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, and the protest's organizers are holding coordination talks with police. The protest in Tel Aviv will take place under the banner, "Gush Katif, I swear to be there," and instructions will be handed to the general public, detailing plans for Tisha B'av, the day of mourning commemoration of the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem, which falls one evening before the disengagement plan.

The possibility of a flyover featuring anti-disengagement signs attached to planes is being considered, and throughout the protest, there will be a live broadcast from Gush Katif, which will be scene to a human chain which will envelop the settlements around the Gush. The head of Mount Hebron's Regional Council, Tzviki Bar Hai, will give instructions to the masses who are expected to arrive at Thursday's Tel Aviv rally, and explain to them what will take place following the end of Tisha B' Av, during which a mass afternoon prayer will take place at the Western Wall.

Israeli Army Holds Final Drill on Gaza Pullout

By Robert Berger (VOA-Jerusalem)

The Israeli army has held a final drill in preparation for the upcoming pullout from the Gaza Strip. But in an attempt to prevent violence, some settlers are handing in their weapons. Thousands of Israeli soldiers rehearsed a scenario that is set to begin next week, removing settlers from the 21 Jewish communities in Gaza.

Soldiers posing as settlers climbed onto rooftops and barricaded themselves inside a synagogue, shouting slogans and throwing stones. Troops scaled the building on ladders. The protesters were loaded into a container which was evacuated by a crane.

In another scenario, mock Palestinian mortar fire fell on the area, sending soldiers running for cover. Then, soldiers posing as Palestinian gunmen infiltrated the settlement and took several hostages, prompting commandos to rush to the scene.

With fears of violence looming, the army and settlers are taking steps to prevent bloodshed. Residents of two of the four West Bank settlements slated for evacuation are handing in their guns, following the lead of several Jewish communities in Gaza. "People don't want violence," said settlement activist Eve Harrow. "The fact that the army has been put in this terrible situation that instead of protecting Jews they have to go and pull Jews out of their homes is the fault of the prime minister, and everybody on all sides deeply resents it. But nobody wants violence and nobody's going to hurt any soldiers."

Couple Arrested, Children Remain Alone

By &

Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz has issued a military restraining order against a couple from the slated-for-destruction community of Sa-Nur – leaving the family's children alone in their house.

It occurred in the late hours of Tuesday night. Policemen attempted to serve Miriam and Yaron Adler with papers forbidding them from entering their home in Sa-Nur, in the northern Shomron. The couple, which was staying at Miriam's parents' home in N'vei Daniel in Gush Etzion, refused to accept the papers. The policemen then brutally arrested them, and the couple's six children - aged 1 to 9 - were left alone in their home in Sa-Nur.The police originally claimed that the couple had attacked the police. Arutz-7's call to the Shai (Samaria/Judea) Police District produced no further comments.

The Adler family was one of the first to arrive in Sa-Nur following its abandonment by most of its permanent residents some three years ago. The Adlers have been very active in bringing new families to live in the community. The military orders state that Miriam and Yaron Adler must return to their home in Kiryat Arba – where they have not lived for three years.

Miriam's sister, Michal, was witness to the arrest. She said afterwards that plainclothes policemen burst into her parents' home at 11:45 p.m. without presenting any warrant. Her parents, who were Prisoners of Zion in the former Soviet Union for 10 years, attempted to find out what the policemen wanted. Michal said that the policemen merely pushed them aside and made their way to the second floor. Only after a while did they present the family with the warrant they had in their possession.

Yaron, Miriam's husband, refused to sign the order, and the couple was arrested. At one point during the police raid, the commander of the force allegedly banged Miriam's head against the floor, dragging her out bare-headed and barefoot. The Adlers had planned to return home to their children in Sa-Nur after visiting Miriam's parents, but the policemen refused to allow them to do so. Nor did the police or other authorities send a welfare worker to look after the abandoned children.

And in a related story, a court has remanded Etti Medad, arrested on Wednesday, until Thursday. She remains in a cell in the police station with three children, ages 5, 2.5 and 8 months. Etti is the wife of Zangi Medad, the head of the Honenu Foundation that gives free legal advice and counsel. A few months ago, she was acquitted of charges on her part in the Hill 26 affair in which women protested the destruction of Nati Ozeri's house after he was murdered in front of his wife and children. The prosecutor has appealed the decision. People in Hebron reacted saying, "This is a state of Sodom where even an innocent person can not sit in quiet."

And in special speech Wednesday, President Moshe Katsav has apologized on behalf of State for asking settlers to leave homes. He said he was touched by some anti-pullout protests "On behalf of the State of Israel, I ask you, the settlers, for forgiveness, over the demand that you leave after dozens of years of construction and victims."

The president's speech was carried live by local television networks. Katsav chose to address the settlers first, and only then turned his attention to other Israelis. "My brothers, the residents of Gaza and northern Samaria, we are facing one of the most fateful decisions since the Declaration of Independence," he said. "In several days you will be asked, in accordance with government and Knesset decisions, to evacuate the Gaza and northern Samaria region. I sympathize with your pain. Many within the nation, regardless of political affiliation, certainly sympathize with your pain."

The president added, "We know your settling in the territories was an act of conscience that was also carried out in accordance with Israeli governments' decisions. You have established thriving settlements and raised generations of children and youths who glorify Israel. We are in awe of how you have heroically faced the dangers – the thousands of bombs, Kassam rockets and terror attacks. You have risked your families' and your own lives for the ideal and faith, and you have known pain and bereavement. After a year of hard-fought battles and intense deliberations – the time has come. You must respect the authorities' decisions."

Katsav said that any act of violence by those attempting to thwart the disengagement was illegitimate."The right to protest and cry out, the plea to replace the government - they do not justify the use of unacceptable means. I was impressed, and even moved, by some of the anti-pullout protests. But there are limits to the struggle. You must refrain from making extreme comments, as some people may be quick to reach conclusions."

The president also addressed the recent wave of insubordination by anti-pullout troops, saying, "Those who believe that anything beneficial will come out of insubordination are gravely mistaken; insubordination may lead to disaster. You (settlers) must save your strength for the battles that are awaiting us. Even those who support the pullout realize the real fight is over the eastern border."

A spokesman from the Hamas terrorist group announced on Wednesday that plans are being made for the festivities to take place after the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif. The spokesman emphasized that the festivities would not be military in nature, but rather cultured as appropriate for " our victory."

Heat Dashes Palestinian Quest for Longest Sandwich

By Reuters

Palestinians abandoned a quest to build the world's longest sandwich on Wednesday after health officials told them their 2,436-foot-long construction risked rotting in the West Bank summer sun. Hundreds of volunteers spread the 750-meter bun on tables along a dusty roadside in the West Bank city of Jenin, long a hotspot of Israeli-Palestinian violence. But the attempt was called off for health reasons before volunteers got a chance to add 396 pounds of mortadella meat, 770 pounds of tomatoes and 550 pounds of green peppers.

Organizers had planned to serve the sandwich to the poor, and said they were aiming to beat a record set in Portugal in 2004 for a 2,060-foot-long sandwich. "We were planning to add the mortadella and stuffing at the last minute to rule out any possibility of rotting," chef Ahmed Nazzal told Reuters. "There must be a conspiracy against us by other competitors."

Disengagement - The Computer Game

By Ha'aretz

Internet games whose subject is disengagement have become a hot item on the Internet.

The "disengagement game" on the Nana Website puts the player into Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's shoes. Sharon, sitting in a bulldozer, has to remove orange-clad children protesting the pullout. Behind him, dozens of cars are waiting to pass. The prime minister has to run into a protesting child with the bulldozer's shovel. Every child caught becomes part of a kind of sticky mass, and Sharon has to move as many of them as possible to the roadside, where a police car will pick them up. Sound effects are a bizarre evil laugh of the horror-movie genre.

The prime minister has a few other tools at his disposal. He can use a club or a kick to disperse the children, or release a herd of pinkish-purple pigs, which puts the pious kids on the run. Sharon's doomsday weapon, after he has collected 75 young protesters, is to "explode" himself from anger, at which point the children fly in every direction. The object of the game is to collect as many points as possible, awarded by the number of children evacuated.

"For me, its the playing that matters," said the game's originator, Alon Shimi. "The settlers always win this game. It's not a political statement." Shimi said he thought it up a month ago when he heard about the threatened road blockages. "I started thinking how I would unblock the roads, and I figured I'd use a bulldozer with a mattress attached, so as not to hurt anyone."

The first game to deal with evacuation is "Wild West Bank." The player has to evacuate outposts and settlements that pop up on the screen in masses, with every two trailers becoming a permanent home, then a neighborhood, after which soldiers arrive to guard it. The game was originally intended as a marketing tool protesting the occupation; its home-page features a link to a site called "Back to Israel" dealing with anti-occupation activities.

Nissim Duek, owner of the communication and advertising firm Unique, originator of the game, said it was invented as a low-budget marketing tool. "If the message is successful enough, you turn every person who gets the game into a sales agent," Duek said. "It got a lot of media exposure, and in a week and a half 100,000 people had downloaded it." The Yesha Council of settlements said in response, "It is shocking that the suffering of the Gush Katif residents can become a source of amusement for political rivals. It is shameful."

Netvision, which operates Nana, said in response, "The disengagement game was selected because of its current-events value and its humor. It was not intended to hurt anyone's feelings or take a political stand." Netvision said 50,000 people have downloaded the game so far.

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