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20,000 People Protest Against Continued Israeli Presence in Lebanon

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Some 20,000 people protesting against the continued Israeli presence in Lebanon packed the Ahziv Park just south of the Lebanese border last Thursday night. The protest, in the form of a “musical happening,” was organized by the Yesh Gvul (There is a Limit) movement of reserve soldiers who refuse to accept call-up orders to serve in Lebanon.

Strong police forces were present, following right-wing threats to disrupt the event, including some bomb threats. Many of the participating artists also received phone threats that their lives were in danger if they performed. There were, however, no disturbances, although young Likud supporters shouted anti-rally slogans outside the entry to the park.

Those entering the park had to go through a special metal detector gate. Police said they did not want a repetition of the tragedy at the Peace Now gathering outside the Prime Minister’s office in Jerusalem last February when a grenade that was tossed into that crowd killed Emil Gruenzweig.

A dozen of the country’s top entertainers, singers and poets entertained the 20,000 people in the park free of charge, and a dozen others expressed regrets that earlier professional commitments did not allow them to attend. There were no speeches at the happening, which was held under the slogan of “Get the Soldiers Out of Lebanon.”

Those attending were asked for a donation of 300 Shekels (about $3). The nearly $90,000 raised will go to the families of men jailed far refusing to serve in Lebanon. There are 97 such soldiers in jail now and they receive neither army pay nor national insurance payments in lieu of normal wages during their imprisonment.

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