The Gaza evacuees were evicted from their place of residence because they settled on occupied land based on their own ideological choice. They were not thrown out on the street, as the State does to others – Palestinians in the territories or residents of Sheikh Jarrah, for example. The latter live in homes built by King Hussein for refugees of Israel’s wars, yet they are being kicked out in favor of settlers who have no attachment to the place.
Not to mention the methodical destruction of homes belonging to the Bedouin, who nobody bothers to rehabilitate. As Israeli citizens, they do not enjoy even one-tenth of the benefits given to Gush Katif evacuees.
It appears that committee member Professor Yedidia Stern, who characterized the evacuation as a grave offence, was focused only on the matter at hand; otherwise, he wouldn’t have ignored the tragedy of Sheikh Jarrah residents, or other tragedies faced by Israeli society on a daily basis.
Such outburst on the part of a wise man like Stern is surprising, because he knows that Gush Katif’s people are citizens with full rights who enjoy great sympathy and an infinite amount of concern for their fate and the fate of their children. They are not mentally disabled children – they know what they want, and they received a huge amount of money from the state, NIS 10 billion (roughly $2.5 billion,) in order to rebuild themselves.
Evacuees weren’t abandoned
No group of new immigrants, and not even widows, orphans, and homeless Israelis enjoy the kind of comprehensive handling accorded to Gush Katif evacuees. Indeed, the disengagement was accompanied by an open wallet and much sympathy from the State and its leaders. The truth is that the State did not fail. The evacuation did not “change the face of the country,” as one committee member said, and everyone stood by the evacuees in order to facilitate proper rehabilitation.
There is no doubt that the evacuees dearly loved their place of residence, and there is no doubt they did not wish to be evacuated, yet the State that showed great care for them, both in terms of their previous settlement and mostly in funds provided for future settlement, did not abandon them.
Declaring that their evacuation was “the gravest blow to human rights in the State of Israel” is an exaggerated statement that has no basis in reality in face of the expulsions, uprooting, humiliation, and destruction suffered by those who are not Zionist Jews concerned with “salvaging the land.”
The evacuees are adults possessing initiative and resourcefulness, and had they shown greater cooperation with authorities and greater initiative in resolving their problems (they were not short of funds to that end,) the problem would no longer exist.
Indeed, five years have passed; yet I have no doubt that with a small effort, goodwill and willingness to resolve the problem, it is possible to straighten out matters by the deadline set by the committee, and all would be well.