Police Foil Missile Plot in Jerusalem

Associated Press Writer

May 17, 7:31 AM EDT

"... As plans to relocate settlers gain steam, so, too, do plans to resist the evacuation.

Opponents on Monday blocked major roads across the country, prompting some motorists to drive on sidewalks to skirt burning tires and billowing smoke.

The traffic disruptions were a dry run for acts of civil disobedience, and possibly violence, that pullout opponents plan across Israel this summer, in the hope of diverting police from Gaza and scuttling the withdrawal.

Although the settlers advertised the road-blocking operation well in advance, their ability to force traffic to a crawl on so many major roads called into question police readiness to handle widespread resistance to the pullout.

Jerusalem police chief Ilan Franco dismissed charges that police weren't prepared, saying they managed to seize hundreds of tires before the evening rush hour, and clear the traffic jams within a reasonable amount of time. More than 300 people were detained, police said.

Security forces are also bracing for possible violent resistance. On Monday, Israeli police and officials said they interrogated three Jews who planned to buy a missile from criminals and fire it at a mosque on the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem, known to Muslims as Haram as-Sharif. Such an attack on the site, where Islam says the Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven, would ignite violence throughout the Mideast.

Investigators acknowledged they had no hard evidence, and the suspects were released. However, the case indicates to what desperate ends pullout opponents might resort."