by Hillel Fendel and Ezra HaLevi
(IsraelNN.com) The day before the 2nd anniversary of the beginning of the forced expulsion from Gush Katif, which falls on Friday, a bid to rebuild Nisanit, in northern Gaza, is attempted.
In 96-degree (Farhrenheit; 36 degrees Centigrade) heat on Thursday afternoon, hundreds of former Gush Katif residents and current-day sympathizers attempted to march towards northern Gaza. They wished to revisit – and ultimately, to rebuild – the site of the northernmost destroyed community, Nisanit.
Dugit and Elei Sinai were the two other now-destroyed Jewish towns in northern Gaza.
Led by Rabbis Shmuel Eliyahu of Tzfat and Yishai Bar-Hen of the Jewish towns in northern Gaza, as well as MKs Uri Ariel and Aryeh Eldad, the group convened at the Yad Mordechai junction. They started their march outside the kibbutz, one that staved off the Egyptian army for six days in 1948, preventing Egypt from conquering Israel’s Mediterranean coastline and coastal plain.
The marchers made their way about three kilometers south to Netiv HaAsarah, but were then stopped by burly Border Guard policemen. The latter stood with their arms intertwined, forming a human wall against the group longing to see Nisanit become Jewish once more. Checkpoints were deployed all along the way, stopping many who wished to join the group.
A 14-year-old girl drew attention when she pleaded with a stoic policeman to “at least hold an Israeli flag! Are you brave enough to do that?” Nearly in tears, she said, “I just want to be able to mourn my old home at the fence of northern Gaza!”
Famous evacuee Avi Farhan, who lived in Elei Sinai and who was also forcibly removed from his Sinai home in Yamit in 1982, is among the organizers of the event. Speaking with Arutz-7 from the site, he wished to convey this message: “We want to go home. The government has not rehabilitated us. We are rolling around in rented apartments and temporary sites. The government should just correct the mistake and let us go home! Northern Gaza was never populated by Arabs, and even now, the army is deployed there – because it is from there that the terrorists fire Kassams at the Negev and Ashkelon. Keeping this area Jewish is the charge of the hour. The infrastructures are there, and we want to rebuild our homes!”
Farhan was evicted from the town of Yamit following the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979. He moved from Yamit to Elei Sinai at the behest of none other than Ariel Sharon. Farhan related that on his way to setting up a protest refugee camp in 1982, “Uri Bar-On, an aide of [then-Defense Minister] Arik Sharon, came to see me and said, ‘Arik says that instead of protesting and starting a refugee camp, why don’t you start a new community in the Erez area, in northern Gaza?’ And so we did! We started the town of Elei Sinai [followed later by Dugit and Nisanit], at the behest of [Arik] Sharon!”
Other Gush Katif News
Seventy families currently living in Yad Binyamin have signed an agreement with the government for the construction of permanent homes there. This is only the third Gush Katif group that has done so. Comprising families from several different communities, such as Gadid, Gan-Or, Netzer Hazani and others, they will build a new neighborhood called Shvut Katif – the Return to Katif.
The families of now-destroyed Ganei Tal have created an exhibit in their temporary home town of Yad Binyamin depicting various aspects of life in Gush Katif. The exhibit will be on display in the “Shavei Katif” (Katif Returnees) Hall in Yad Binyamin, along the Nachshon-Bnei Re’em highway, for the next week. Admission is free.
American Jewish Youth Donate to Gush Katif Family
American Jewish youth visiting Israel as part of a pluralist camp program decided to donate all their charity money to a family expelled from Gush Katif after a chance encounter near the Knesset.
Last Sunday, the group of high school seniors visited Israelâ€™s Supreme Court. Following the tour of the building where the fate of Gazaâ€™s Jewish towns was sealed following last-ditch petitions against the expulsion, the young people walked through the nearby Rose Garden â€“ located between the court and the Knesset. Gush Katif refugees had camped out in the park to protest that fact that two years have passed since their displacement and they still have not been rehabilitated.
There they met a woman who had lost both her son and brother while living in Gush Katif. She had cooperated with the government following the decision to relinquish Gaza, but said she had been mistreated and neglected ever since.
â€œIt has been two years and we still live in a double-wide caravan,â€ she told the visiting American Jews. â€œWe have to dip into the compensation our children received just to put food on the table.â€
The campers, who had been putting money aside each week before the Sabbath, decided then and there that they wanted their money to help the woman and her family.
The Na’aleh Program, run by Camp Yavneh, consists of 36 young Jews from Boston, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Florida.