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JERUSALEM – Tens of thousands of drivers throughout the country parked their cars on the sides of major roads and highways, and thousands more demonstrators showed up on foot to protest the planned withdrawal of Jewish communities from Gaza and parts of the West Bank this summer.
Protest cars park along Jerusalem entrance. Photo: WND.
Today’s campaign, dubbed “Stop for a minute, think for a minute,” was led by the Yesha settler’s council, which claimed tonight about 40,000 cars and 200,000 demonstrators participated.
Drivers were asked to pull over to the side of the road for 15 minutes and exit their vehicles while waving orange ribbons, Israeli flags and anti-disengagement placards. The actual protest lasted over an hour, until Yesha Council leader Pinchas Wallerstein eventually issued an order to end the event.
Unlike previous traffic protests, participants were asked not to block roads or stop traffic. Indeed, for the most part, traffic throughout the country was slowed but not stopped.
At the main entrance to Jerusalem, about 500 vehicles pulled over, and an estimated 8,000 protesters gathered alongside the streets, many brandishing anti-withdrawal signs and chanting, “Jews don’t evacuate Jews.”
Police struggled to contain the large crowds and direct traffic at the same time.
Demonstrators amass along Jerusalem road. Photo: WND.
Taunting the officers, several hundred young men at different junctions repeatedly counted together backwards from 10 and charged at the road – as if they were going to stop traffic – but they stopped just short of the street curb.
At some Jerusalem junctions, young boys and girls dressed in orange – the color theme of the anti-evacuation movement – carried chocolate bars and asked the officers if they would like to trade in their guns for candy.
“Please don’t use your guns to shoot at Jews,” the kids exclaimed.
Many of drivers passing by the protest honked their horns and cheered in support. Some honked in annoyance at the traffic delays.
There were similar reports of slow traffic at major junctions in Tel Aviv, Haifa, Ashkelon and dozens of cities in Israel. One junction in an ultra-Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood was reportedly blocked for several minutes.
Jerusalem protesters at major intersection. Photo: WND.
A senior Yesha leader told WND the police barred many vehicles from joining the protest.
“They pulled lots of cars and buses over and asked drivers where they were headed. They wouldn’t let a lot of people deemed ‘suspicious’ onto highways.”
The point of the protest, the Yesha leader said, was for the anti-evacuation campaign to flex its muscles.
“We want to show we can get the masses on the streets. This time, we don’t want to do anything, just be there. But if Sharon thinks he is going through with his plan to expel Jews from their homes, he is wrong. We are going to use our mass support to bring this country to a standstill,” said the Yesha leader.
The leader promised the next protest, scheduled for Wednesday, would be “much bigger and badder.”
“Wednesday’s protest will include blocking traffic. Let’s just say we’re expecting lots of arrests,” the leader said.