VIDEO - Bentzi Lieberman, head of the Judea and Samaria regional council, spoke in Jerusalem Tuesday afternoon at a mass rally marking the one year anniversary of the Disengagement. "Exactly a year since the pain, the rage, and the destruction, the truth comes to light: The two-front war that we are currently involved in is actually the war of disengagement. Disengagement exploded in the faces of residents of the Negev, Haifa and the Galilee," he said.
Thousands throng to Jerusalem (Photo: David Vaknin)
Tens of thousands of individuals attended the rally, which was organized under the title "Remembering the past, building the future." Among the participants were evacuees from Gush Katif (in Gaza) and north Samaria and many of the youths who protested the disengagement a year ago, whose anguish and difficulty from all they experienced as a result of the forced departure was visibly apparent.
A just completed Torah was placed on the center stage, its covering decorated with the names of the evacuated settlements. At the conclusion of the rally, thousands of participants walked to the Western Wall, led by the former head rabbi of Gush Katif, Yigal Kaminsky, carrying the new Torah. The scrolls will be kept at the Western Wall "until the settlements of Gush Katif and northern Samaria return."
Rabbi Kaminsky with the Torah (Photo: Amir Cohen)
Later Tuesday night, those still congregated said prayers for the safety of soldiers participating in current IDF operations, and for the return of the kidnapped soldiers. Because the rally was held during the Nine Days (the period in between the first day of the Jewish month, Av, and Tisha B'Av, the day marking the destruction of the ancient Temple) songs were sung, but without musical accompaniment. Additionally, scenes were performed from a play about disengagement.
"During the entire time that we fought, we knew that our struggle was about Jerusalem – we knew that the nation of Israel that didn't know what it did in Gaza, didn't know what it was doing to Jerusalem," said Rabbi Kaminsky at the rally. "Granted the homes were destroyed, the settlements were destroyed, but the struggles, the yearnings, the faith and the prayers are still strong. We need to transform this strength into something bigger. We want to return to Gush Katif, and today, this reality seems closer than ever."
Lieberman expressed similar messages regarding the strength and unity of the community, and also articulated his disapproval of PM Ehud Olmert's policy. "Today, we are all the IDF. Today, we are all Israel. Today, we are all together," he said in his opening remarks.
'We'll never forget and never forgive' (Photo: David Vaknin)
"In spite of this, in these very days, the prime minister continues to gallop blindly towards the next enemy. Only last week, in a speech to evacuees from Nitzan, he stubbornly reiterated his intention to implement Realignment and bring about an additional withdrawal, this time from the heart of Israel. We know that the prime minister is marching along with his idea of Realignment. Israeli citizens will not allow an additional and illogical uprooting to take place," Lieberman continued.
The spokesperson for the Sa-Nur community (formerly in northern Samaria), Yossi Dagan, declared during the rally that "we promise to remember and never forget this terrible outrage and blasphemy. We promise to remember and never forget the crime of eviction, and remember favorably all those who did not obey orders. We will dedicate our lives to returning to northern Samaria and Gush Katif."
Lior Kalfa, Chairman of the Gush Katif Residents Committee, added: "A year has passed and the nation of Israel is already embroiled in a war in the Gaza strip, and, as of three weeks ago, in an additional front in northern Israel and Lebanon…the crazy reality in which we are living only strengthen our faith in the righteousness of our path."