Gush Katif before and after the 2005 Gaza evacuation

We are in Samaria to stay

On August 28, marking the 50th anniversary of Jewish presence in Judea and Samaria, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We are here to stay. There will be no uprooting of communities in the Land of Israel. Removing settlements has not contributed to peace. What have we gained from removing settlements for the sake of peace? We got rockets. And it won’t happen again.”

 “The other reason we must hold unto Samaria is that it is a strategic asset for the State of Israel. It is the key to our future. We will guard Samaria in the face of all those who seek to drive us out of this place,” said Netanyahu. He promised to keep up the momentum of development and construction in Judea and Samaria.

In 2005, Israel withdrew and evacuated about 9,000 Jews from the Gaza Strip’s 17 Jewish communities. Also, four Jewish communities north of Gaza were dismantled.  Citizens were reluctant to move to the military pulled out families against their will. The official compensation was said to be $200,000 per family to cover temporary housing and resettlement, but it did not. After twelve years since the evacuation, many of those families are still in temporary dwellings.

We may pray that the current and future prime ministers of Israel will hold onto the land, refusing to evacuate any of the community from their own land. The cost of human suffering and loss of homes cannot be calculated.

Hebron’s Jewish community

After 38 years since returning to the city of Hebron, the Jewish community has acquired the official status of an independent settlement. Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman upgraded the municipal status of Hebron’s Jewish site, separating it from the Palestinian municipality.

It is a change in the status of the 1,000 Jews who live in Hebron. The 1997 agreement split the city, of what is now more than 220,000 Palestinians, leaving 80% under the Palestinian Authority and 20% under Israel.

The upgrade comes during UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ visit to Israel and the PA territories. In July, UNESCO registered in its World Heritage List Hebron’s old town and the Tomb of the Patriarchs as an “endangered Muslim site” in the State of Palestine. (On-line resources)

Evacuation from Jewish communities of Bedolah (right) and Gush Katif, summer 2005.