Protesters plan to go ahead with Gaza march
Israeli parliament rejects legislation to delay settler withdrawal
From John Vause
YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
KFAR MAIMON, Israel (CNN) -- Thousands of Jewish protesters ended their demonstration late Wednesday without renewing their effort to march into Gaza, but organizers said the protest would resume in the morning.
The protesters intend to join settlers resisting the government's plan to pull out of the territory.
But at one point Wednesday, march organizers told demonstrators to go home.
Israeli police commanders said they would block any march and continued to predict that the protesters would disperse.
As the protest continued in southern Israel, the Knesset, Israel's parliament, rejected 69-41 a bill that would have delayed the disengagement plan by three months. There were two abstentions.
The pullout plan calls for the withdrawal of about 8,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza and four small areas of the West Bank as well as the Israeli troops deployed to protect them. It is scheduled for mid-August.
Protest organizers had sought to influence the Knesset's vote with the demonstrations.
Several thousand demonstrators boarded buses provided by the Israeli government to go back home.
Protest leaders at one point said they would halt attempts to march from the southern Israeli farming village of Kfar Maimon to the Kissufim Crossing, which leads to Jewish settlements at Gush Katif in Gaza. But they later decided to continue.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon vowed the demonstrators would not be allowed to enter Gaza, which has been declared a closed military zone.
The Israeli government has said the disengagement will redraw the landscape of the Middle East, allowing for the possible resumption of the peace process with the Palestinian Authority.
At the peak of the protest, police estimated about 10,000 demonstrators had gathered, but organizers put the number much higher.
Israeli authorities deployed around 20,000 soldiers and police to contain the protesters. They reduced that presence for a while but then began redeploying more troops and police.
Organizers had planned to lock arms and march toward Kissufim Crossing on Tuesday, but they dropped that plan after scuffles broke out between demonstrators and Israeli police.
A contingent of protesters faced off with Israeli soldiers along a fence surrounding the village of Kfar Maimon.
Protesters told soldiers they loved them, calling them brothers and asking them to join the demonstrations, but the troops appeared unmoved.
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