Tags: Outsiders | Fuel | Resistance | Jewish | Settlement

Outsiders Fuel Resistance in Jewish Settlement

Tuesday, 16 August 2005 12:00 AM

Many of the residents of Gush Katif have chosen not to move, despite government orders - issued yesterday - to do so. They are protesting the government's plan to uproot 21 Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank. Many religious Jews consider the land their eternal inheritance, as promised to them in the Bible.

The head of the Israel Army's Southern Command, Major-Gen. Dan Harel, told reporters that since Monday, 120 families from Neve Dekalim had requested shipping containers to move their belongings out. But on Tuesday, getting the moving trucks and storage containers into the settlement was a battle in itself.

As vans and trucks tried to enter the community, dozens - and then hundreds - of demonstrators sat or stood in the road, singing songs. Police lined up against the crowd in an attempt to push it back to make way for the trucks.

Men, women and teens - many of whom do not live here but who came in an effort to stop the evacuation - pleaded with soldiers and police. They are trying to persuade the security forces, many of them very young, to disobey their commanders and refuse to evacuate fellow Jews.

"The army is part of us. You are like my son," one woman said to a soldier. Later, the woman, who said she lived in the West Bank, said the people of Israel don't know what they're doing to themselves. She said the disengagement is hurting all Israelis, whether they're for it or against it.

Alaejandro Okret, 27, a soldier who came to Israel from Argentina, said the woman's words do bother him. "I'm not senseless, but basically we are standing in two different positions. I'm here to comply with a mission given to the army, done in a democratic, legal way. She wants to stay here - that makes it very difficult."

Another woman yelled at two border policewomen as they stood side-by-side as part of a human barrier against the protesters.

"You are women," the protester said. "You will have babies one day. Just remember that you took the babies out of someone else's hands. You'll remember that all your lives."

The policewomen stood there stoically, one with her head bowed, but after the settler left, they clasped hands as if to encourage each other. "She spoke the truth, but there is nothing we can do about it," said one of the young policewomen.

Asked if they had volunteered for this mission, she said, "How is it possible to volunteer for something like this?" The second officer noted, "If you don't obey their commands, they'll throw you in jail."

Later, a loud speaker blared a recording of Ariel Sharon's words - a repeat of Sharon's earlier comments that as far as police are concerned, a command is a command. Sharon also said that if a soldier has a problem carrying out the disengagement, he can go to his commander and be relieved from his duties.

Since then, however, the army has made it clear that it will deal harshly with those who refuse to carry out evacuation orders.

With time and momentum working against them, the settlers are trying very hard to change the minds of the police and soldiers who are under orders to forcibly remove the settlers, starting on Wednesday.

Yehudah Glick said he's been living in Neve Dekalim for the past few months; his brother and sister and families live here permanently. "Those living here right now are going through a very critical trauma," Glick said.

He said he has far less to lose than the permanent residents who have their entire lives invested in the Gaza Strip. But Glick said he is protesting and speaking out on behalf of the people here - and he doesn't say anything before he gets an okay from them.

Tuesday's protests played out in front of foreign and local media, some of whom have taken up temporary residence here and others who were shuttled in by the army, just for the day.

Things apparently are going much smoother in the West Bank, where the much smaller, secular settlements of Ganim and Kadim were vacant on Tuesday. All the residents left voluntarily, reports said.

The northern Gaza Strip settlement of Nissanit was set to hold a closing ceremony on Wednesday, and reports said residents of the neighboring settlement Elei Sinai had signed an agreement to be relocated to a hotel, although one resident disputed that report.

The only crossing into the Gush Katif settlement bloc was closed to traffic on Sunday. The 9,000 Jewish residents of the Gaza Strip and northern west bank were given 48 hours to evacuate voluntarily and offered assistance by the army in packing.

Some settlers have moved out of the Gaza Strip on their own, and at this point, it's hard to gauge how many families will be left on Wednesday, when the forcible evacuation begins.

Some of the Gush Katif settlers are shipping their personal belongings out of the settlement, but they plan to stay on to resist the evacuation.

A Neve Dekalim spokeswoman said of the 480 families, 300 were still there on Tuesday.

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Many of the residents of Gush Katif have chosen not to move, despite government orders - issued yesterday - to do so. They are protesting the government's plan to uproot 21 Jewish communities in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank. Many religious Jews consider...
Tuesday, 16 August 2005 12:00 AM
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