Settlers launch sit-down strike

Gaza evacuees threaten to move on to hunger strike if help not forthcoming.

gaza settlers 88 (photo credit: )
gaza settlers 88
(photo credit: )
Three months after Israel pulled out of the Gaza Strip and dismantled the 21 Jewish settlements there, settler leaders on Tuesday launched an open-ended sit down strike opposite the government compound in Jerusalem to protest the government "neglect" and "obtuseness" in dealing with the thousands of Israeli evacuees. The demonstration, which got off to a slow start Tuesday morning with a mere dozen participants in the huge white tent erected opposite the foreign ministry, was initiated by Zvi Slonim of the Eretz Israel Academy in the West Bank settlement of Kedumim. Slonim explained why he initiated teh protest, saying that the "shameful humiliation and cruelty to the evacuees" could no longer be stood for. "It does not matter if you were for or against the disengagement, people need to call upon the government to solve this problem because it is on its way to becoming a disaster," Slonim said Tuesday. He noted that three months after the forced evacuation 2,000 evacuees were unemployed, dozens of people were still living in tents, and dozens more were suffering deep psychological duress. In addition, Slonim noted, containers of packed-up possessions have disappeared and home reimbursements promised by the government ranging in the hundreds of thousands of dollars have been virtually nonexistent to date. "A shame and disgrace to the State of Israel: Thousands were uprooted with determination where is the housing?" a placard erected at the entrance to the mostly desolate tent read. In a city that has seen hundreds of city demonstrations, both large and small, peaceful and violent, against the Gaza pullout over the last two years, a journalist or two and a representative of the US Consulate in Jerusalem were among the sole visitors at the protest tent early Tuesday afternoon on a balmy autumn day that seemed more like summer. Organizers warned that if the government failed to meet their needs and work with them to quickly mend the social problems that the pullout has caused then they would be forced to launch a hunger strike opposite the prime minister's residence next month.