Gush Katif Evacuated
On August 15, 2005, the evacuation of the Gush Katif settlements began.
There were 17 settlements in the Gaza Strip. Around 8500 Jews, many religious, others secular. Coexisting with their Arab neighbors in Gaza.
These moshavim were established on “virgin sand” to use their words. They built something from the ground up with the motto, “Those who sow with tears will reap with joy.” In Gush Katif, there was thriving organic agriculture; that’s fat cherry tomatoes, bug-free leafy greens, vibrant peppers, houseplants, and flowers for export. From desert sands. All of this bordering the glittering Mediterranean. Kids ran, played, and prayed in the sun. It was a quiet and simple life.
In August 2005, there was a mandated evacuation.
The evacuation was a dark day in Israeli history. Many of the settlers were forcibly evacuated from their homes by young Israeli soldiers, and it is clear from the agony in the soldiers' faces, this was not easy for either side. After all, they are all Israeli. So why did they evacuate this territory anyway? Given that Gush Katif was in the Gaza Strip, many resources were used for the protection of the settlers. The reasons for leaving were cited as safety and money. And also to try to make peace in that region.
There was a huge disengagement campaign, themed with the color orange, all over the country. Thousands of people held hands all the way from the territory to Jerusalem in an act of defiance. The evacuation still happened, but not without a fight from the people who had called it their home for the last decade.
After the evacuation, many of the members of Gush Katif struggled to find new places to call home. They lived in temporary housing for a while, but the pain of leaving their homes lingered. Pleasant memories in Gush Katif also remain. In a published interview with Haaretz, one child says,
"What I do remember are the beaches, the sand dunes, the feeling of living in paradise."
Interested in learning more about Gush Katif? Visit the Katif Center in Nitzan.