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TENS OF THOUSANDS PROTEST DISENGAGEMENT

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TENS OF THOUSANDS PROTEST DISENGAGEMENT

Some 40,000 Israelis assembled in Jerusalem?s Zion Square Sunday night to protest Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Gaza disengagement plan, even as Sharon himself warned his cabinet that the rising level of right-wing ?incitement? against the policy had to stop.

We have seen a severe "campaign of incitement, with intentional calls for civil war," Sharon told ministers at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting following the publication of a petition Friday by a number of prominent right-wing personalities calling the disengagement plan a "crime against humanity, " and urging security forces to refuse settlement evacuation orders.

"I see this as very serious. I think that threats on IDF officers and security establishment personnel are a very grave phenomenon. Leave the IDF out of it. They cannot be threatened or incited against," Sharon said.

But hours after his statements, the strongest issued by Sharon against the settlement movement to date, tens of thousands of anti-disengagement protesters thronged downtown Jerusalem calling the Prime Minister a "dictator" and demanding that the National Religious Party quit the PM?s narrow coalition and bring down the government.

"Jews should not think so lightly about transferring other Jewish people from their homes,? Yael Alkalai, a Jerusalem resident attending the rally with her daughter told The Jerusalem Post, Sunday night.

The protest followed a prayer vigil at the Western Wall, were thousands invoked the Biblical story of Esther to pray that "the evil decree" issued by Sharon would be removed.