The Israel Police has begun to equip for the operation to evacuate settlements in the context of the disengagement plan.
Police assessments as to the scope of violence expected to be encountered in the course of the evacuation worsen with every report about an escalation in the settlers’ battle.

The police would like to purchase equipment that will be used by the Israel Police and Border Police troops who take part in the evacuation of the settlements in the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria, as well as the troops who will maintain law and order in the major cities in Israel. The equipment in question includes hundreds of new batons, dozens of horses and a number of vehicles fitted with water cannons.

A document submitted by the police Operations Department to the Finance Ministry for budgeting purposes also cites dozens of special protective suits to protect the policemen from physical blows from either fists or stones.

Police Commissioner Inspector-General Moshe Karadi said this week that most of the evacuation would be “done by hand.” But the police are also aware of the possibility that grave scenarios of mass public disturbances, in which hundreds of thousands of people block central traffic arteries or try to storm the Knesset and the Prime Minister’s Office, could ensue. Senior police officials said, “demonstrations like that can’t be dealt with by hand.”

Many Border Police reservists will be drafted to help the police complete its task, as will soldiers. The police would like to purchase padded overalls for the troops that will allow them to “absorb” blows dealt them by the demonstrators without getting hurt. Police officials hope that this will also minimize incidents in which injured policemen then respond with violence.

Police representatives have held a series of meetings with Finance Ministry officials in an attempt to persuade them to accede to their budgetary requests. The police have scaled down their original request for NIS 500 million to NIS 370 million, but the Finance Ministry has not agreed to meet the request yet. A substantial part of that sum is to be used to recruit reservists and to deal with logistical aspects of evacuation operation.

Yossi Yehoshua adds: Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said yesterday: “the implementation of the disengagement plan will be a difficult, heart-rending task, but we will implement it in full. There will be no compromises on this issue.” Mofaz called on the settlers “to accept the democratic decision, to behave with restraint and, heaven forbid, not to strike IDF soldiers. The public debate mustn’t enter that mine field. Mine fields can cause casualties.”

Leading Settlers Council officials call on Israelis not to take part in the orange star protest, read a statement issued last night. President Moshe Katzav also called on the citizens to refrain from appending an orange star to their clothes. “This is an awful memory from an awful period for the Jewish people. The Nazis, may their name be obliterated, made horrific use of the yellow star, and no use should be made of it.”

The Education Ministry yesterday instructed all school principals to ban students from wearing the orange star on their clothes while on school grounds.

This ran in the December 24th, 2004 edition of Yediot Aharonot