The IDF has well rehearsed plans for its operation, “Brotherly Hand,” which will take place between August 15 and 17. The operation was supposed to begin with a polite knock by a friendly IDF officer, as the army cleared the settlement. But on Saturday, thousands of Gush Katif took the decision to not allow soldiers to enter their communities. The settlers decided to lock the gates and to sit on the roads and block them, hampering the army’s mission.
The program came to light during a briefing about military decrees conducted in the Gaza settlement of Nave Dekalim, in which thousands of residents of various settlements took part, along with leading figures from the Yesha Council.
There is much sensitivity surrounding the handing out of the decrees, seen as the official start of the clearing of settlements, and Sunday morning saw contacts between Gush Gatif residents and the IDF in an attempt to ensure that the decrees, which will call on residents to leave their homes, will be handed to every settlement resident, via the settlement’s secretary.
Raphi Sari, of the ‘Struggle Committee’ of Gush Katif, explained to residents what the army had planned in the next few days. “600 officers will go house to house, and express readiness to help. They will look serene, will come with friendly faces, and they want to see us all out. From our perspective, we will not cooperate with this,” said Sari, whose words were received with applause.
“They (the army and police) are under pressure,” said Sari. “Things are not going according to their plans. From Monday to Tuesday evening, soldiers and police will try to employ psychological techniques on us that will not be easy. They cannot be allowed to freely enter the settlements on Monday morning. This place (Nave Dekalim) has been chosen to be the central fortress. We will split up into groups, and at eight will we shut the gates, sit on the floor, and launch into prayer, reading from psalms and singing. That’s how we’ll prevent the entry of the forces. We will guard the house – and we’ll do the same in the rest of the settlements.”
Sari added that “whoever decides to leave will be respected by us.”
“Everyone will be in their homes. We came to the conclusion that if, God forbid, the expulsion does happen, people would prefer to get through it on a personal level. We said that every house must decide personally what is best for it, with the general direction being protest, struggle, and non-cooperation – and all this without physical or verbal abuse.”
“The strongest weapon we have is our morals,” said Sari. “Every hour that we delay them will be worth gold. From tomorrow (Sunday) evening, a mass of people from the outside will head to Gush Katif, and if there’s a struggle inside too, these means can bring the Israeli government to search for a ladder with which to climb down from the tree.”
IDF: We’ll know how to treat those who disturb the peace
“It’s impossible to speak of every scenario, (but) we will give an answer all that unfolds,” said an IDF source. “From August 15, at midnight, the presence of civilians in Gush Katif will be illegal. IDF officers and police will knock on doors and speak with the residents. Whoever does not open their doors will be left a letter signed by the southern commander. We will use force to deal with closed gates or roads, and we will know how to deal with those who disturb the peace,” said the source.
Hanan Greenberg and Ilan Marciano contributed to this report