A campaign against the state
Faced with the masses that are threatening to break through the fences surrounding Gaza, there may be no choice but to use crowd-dispersal equipment, just as the police and army do on other occasions. The danger to the state reflected in the march on Gush Katif is no smaller, and in practice is even greater, than the danger posed by other demonstrations that the security forces have been forced to handle.
The Yesha Council of settlements in the West Bank and Gaza is supposed to launch its march on Gush Katif today - a march that is meant to thwart the decision to disengage from the Gaza Strip that was made by the state's authorized institutions. Thousands and perhaps tens of thousands of settlers, yeshiva students and other disengagement opponents have been recruited for the march. The plan calls for them to proceed by vehicle and on foot to the Kissufim checkpoint in order to break through either it or the fence around the Strip and thereby reach the Gush Katif settlements, and then remain there to organize themselves as an opposition force to the evacuation on August 17.
According to Yesha Council members, the march is not supposed to involve clashes with soldiers and policemen or violence of any sort. But this is a hollow and, in fact, deceptive promise. The Yesha leaders know very well, from their experience with similar demonstrations, that violence is implicit in their plans: When masses of demonstrators stand face to face with forces charged with preserving order, violence will be virtually unavoidable. The marchers will try to force policemen and soldiers to fail in their mission by ignoring their orders, verbal provocation, physical pressure and a massing of forces - and these will necessarily lead to physical clashes, the likes of which have already caused injuries and are liable to cause deaths.
The Yesha Council is not waging a campaign for Gush Katif, but a campaign against the State of Israel. That is the true meaning of the attempt to ignore the decision made by the cabinet and Knesset, which was upheld by the Supreme Court. All the excuses offered by Yesha Council spokesmen, which use ideas from Jewish, Zionist and settlement movement history, cannot blur the truth: The intention here is to give priority to, and to impose on the majority through violent means, an ideology accepted only by the minority, and which is liable to lead to a national disaster. This attempt has already led to the first cracks in national unity in the form of refusal by religious soldiers to obey their commanders' orders, even if thus far their numbers are small. As the Yesha Council's campaign continues, the cracks are liable to widen and deepen into civil conflict.
In this situation, there is no way to avoid high-flown language: The fate of the State of Israel once more rests in the hands of the security services. But this time, their mission is not to defend the state from external enemies, but to block an effort from within to impose decisions on the state that were not made democratically. To thwart this dangerous attempt, every means necessary to ensure success must be used, beginning with giving public backing to Israeli Defense Forces commanders and soldiers and the police - astonishingly, no such expressions of support have yet been heard from most of the cabinet ministers whose decision is at stake - and ending with employing means to block the march the moment it becomes illegal.
So far, the police and the IDF have coped with violent demonstrators with empty hands, out of a desire not to escalate the dispute. But faced with the masses that are threatening to break through the fences, there may be no choice but to use crowd-dispersal equipment, just as the police and army do on other occasions. The danger to the state reflected in the march on Gush Katif is no smaller, and in practice is even greater, than the danger posed by other demonstrations that the security forces have been forced to handle.