TEL AVIV (Aug. 2)
Some 200 members of the ultra-nationalist Gush Emunim movement were prevented by the Israeli army today from marching from Jerusalem to Jericho where they planned to set up another illegal settlement on the West Bank. The Gush Emunim convoy, which formally organized at the convention hall in Jerusalem, was met by an army roadblock on the Ramallah-Jericho road. Roadblocks were also set up on other roads leading to Jericho and an army helicopter kept circling over the Gush group.
By nightfall, some Gush Emunim members were reportedly still trying to evade the road- blocks. To prevent this, the military governor has issued a declaration putting the Jericho area out of bounds to any civilian non-resident of the area.
Earlier in the afternoon, when the Gush caravan realized that it could not get through the roadblocks, truck loads of the would-be settlers tried to cross the terrain along dirt paths usually used only by camels and donkeys. The army followed all of the vehicles and when it realized that one was missing, helicopters were sent up to look for it. The vehicle was found stopped west of Jericho.
The army has rushed buses to the area to bring back the Gush people. Persuasion is being used but the army is under orders to use force if necessary. Meanwhile, army patrols are checking other areas, more accessible than Jericho, for possible settlement attempts.
Today’s demonstration by Gush Emunim did not include the large crowds of people who came out in their support in other settlement attempts nor did it receive much media coverage. This was seen as a demonstration that the public no longer supports such repeated attempts which it views as a provocation and a test of the government’s ability to carry out its decisions even if it endangers the coalition.