TEL AVIV (Apr. 28)
Soldiers used teargas today in an effort to prevent members of the Peace Now movement to reach a new Nahal (paramilitary) outpost on the West Bank dedicated by Defense Minister Ariel Sharon.
Although most of the Peace Now demonstrators, accompanied by local and foreign journalists, were held up by police roadblocks, some managed to get through to Telem, in the Hebron Hills, where they disrupted Sharon’s speech.
To prevent the demonstration, the army declared the area of the new Nahal settlement a closed area and the police set up roadblocks on the cross-Judaea road leading to it. While some were held up near Hebron others left the road and began walking around the roadblock. The army used teargas to disperse them.
Some got through to Telem where they heckled Sharon during his speech. Fist fights broke out between the Peace Now demonstrators and the largely Gush Emunim supporters of the new settlement, one of 11 to be dedicated in the coming days.
In his speech, Sharon said the time had come for renewed national unity around the “true bonner of Zionism–settlement.” He said there was no connection between the evacuation of Sinai and new settlements on the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golon Heights.
He said that Israel had made clear to the whole world that it would continue to build settlements. Israel’s contention that Jews could also live in Sinai had not been accepted, and hence Israel had agreed to withdraw its settlements from there. But he added that on the West Bank, “Jews and Arabs will continue to live side by side, forever.”
Peace Now circles noted that the army had not used feargas on anti-withdrawal die-hards in Yamit who had physically battled soldiers trying to remove them, beating the troops with wooden and iron bars and trying to throw them off ladders.