PM to Settlers: Don't Hurt Troops Over Disengagement, Hurt Me

Sharon beseeches settlers to blame him, not soldiers or police, for the disengagement.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, beseeching settlers to blame him, not soldiers, for the diasengagement, Wednesday called the images of Gaza settlers being removed from their homes "heartbreaking," and praised the restraint of both settlers and soldiers.

Sharon appealed to opponents of the disengagement to avoid physical and verbal confrontation with the security forces.

"I want to truly appeal to everyone, not to attack the police, the women and men soldiers and police . Don't blame them. Don't make it hard on them. Don't hurt them, hurt me."

Speaking to reporters after talks with with President Moshe Katsav Sharon said "It's impossible to watch this, and that includes myself, without tears in the eyes.

"My heart is broken when I see these things."

As Sharon was speaking, a woman protester stabbed and lightly wounded a woman soldier in Morag settlement, the focus of a tense evacuation of settlers and demonstrators on Wednesday.

Referring to his disengagement plan, said "I am responsible for this. Hurt me. Blame me. Don't hurt the soldiers and police who are in any case in a state of distress."

Katsav then interjected, saying that Sharon intended to say "'Criticize me,' not 'hurt me.'"