Anarchy warning as leak foils plan to raid Gaza pullout opponents' bastion

Date: 06-24-05

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israel's top law officer warned of the danger of anarchy breaking out during the operation to uproot settlers from the Gaza Strip as an embarrassing leak forced security chiefs to scrap a raid on an extremist bastion.

Attorney general Menachem Mazuz said that it was unrealistic to expect "parlour protests" from opponents of the withdrawal from the territory who were confronted with the trauma of being forced out of their homes.

"The transition from violent protest to complete anarchy could be not only quick, but completely uncontrollable," Mazuz said Friday in an interview with the right-wing Makor Rishon newspaper.

Mazuz said he hoped the organisers of anti-pullout protests would "realise when they are going too far", although he understood their feelings.

"These are people whose world has been destroyed," he said. "One cannot expect the struggle to end with parlour protests."

The government appears increasingly rattled by the tactics of extremists who are determined to thwart what should be the first ever Israeli pullout from occupied Palestinian territory.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has previously warned of the dangers of civil war, expressed his anger in a speech on Thursday evening over plans by ultra-nationalists to blockade all major roads in Israel next week.

"A country cannot operate like this," he told activists from his right-wing Likud party, few of whom have much enthusiasm for his so-called disengagement plan.

A feeling that the authorities are being outflanked by opponents of disengagement was further reinforced when security forces had to scrap a supposedly top-secret raid on an abandoned hotel in Gaza where dozens of activists have gathered with the intention of blocking the pullout.

An elite police unit had been primed to storm the former Palm Beach hotel on the Gaza coastline.

But the plan was called off at the last moment on Thursday evening when it became clear the new residents, who have nicknamed their beachfront home the Ocean Citadel, had been tipped off and were reinforcing the barricades.

The raid was intended as a declaration of intent by the security services that they would not tolerate any concerted effort to block the pullout. Its cancellation has embarrassed and angered security chiefs.

"This was a lightning plan which was handled like a state secret. I cannot remember such irresponsibility of leaking information," one senior official told the Yediot Aharonot daily.

"The right has a mole in the security establishment or at very high senior levels in the political establishment. All our moves are transparent."

Three Palestinians were wounded last weekend by shots fired by residents of the hotel. The security sources also believe the residents are stockpiling weapons in a desperate bid to prevent the evacuation.



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