disengagement prayer rally 248.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
“Bye-bye,” a small boy said as he waved at dozens of orange balloons floating
off into the evening sky at the Kissufim crossing to the Gaza Strip on
In a dusty field, several thousand Gaza evacuees and their
supporters gathered to mark fifth years since they were pulled from their homes
during the disengagement.
At the end of the ceremony, children who were
born that year and since stood on the stage decked in orange bands, and released
The withdrawal began on August 15, 2005, just after the fast of
Tisha Be’av, which marks the destruction of both the First and Second
Evacuees from the 21 Gaza settlements and four in northern
Samaria often commemorate the loss of their communities around Tisha
Wednesday’s ceremony launched a massive program to hold 100
commemorative events over the next three weeks – 80 in Israel and 20 in
countries such as Norway, Germany, the US and Canada, according to Dror Vanunu,
formerly of Neveh Dekalim in Gush Katif.
“It is a symbolic time. Five
years is not four or six,” Vanunu told The Jerusalem Post, as he sat in the
field next to what was once the major entry point for Israelis headed to the
“We want people in Israel and abroad to learn the
lessons from Gush Katif,” Vanunu said. Their story should serve as a warning, in
light of talks of further territorial withdrawals in the West Bank, he
Avi Farhan, who had been evacuated twice, once from the Sinai
community of Yamit in 1982 and a second time from the Elei Sinai settlement in
northern Gaza, lit a torch on a stage that had been set up in the
If the disengagement had not happened, he said, “a soldier would
not have been kidnapped, there would have been no Operation Cast Lead, Sderot
would not continue to be targeted by rockets, there would have been no Gaza
flotilla, there would be no international inquiries, and we would not have been
refugees within our own nation for the last five years,” Farhan told the
“When we screamed, ‘Stop the mistake,’ you did not pay
attention to us,” he said.
“We will free [captive soldier] Gilad Schalit
[from Gaza], only when we return home,” he said.
Public Diplomacy and
Diaspora Affairs Minister Minister Yuli Edelstein (Likud), who has been a
consistent opponent of territorial concessions, said he would have liked to see
some of those who supported the disengagement in the audience.
the people who said that after the disengagement, the southern border would be
more secure and Israel’s international standing would improve in the world,
MK Zevulun Orlev (Habayit Hayehudi) said the
disengagement was one of the greatest disasters to befall Israel. It has plagued
Israel like a snowball that becomes bigger as it rolls down a hill, as it
continues to be at the root of Israel’s security problems, he said.
Dayan, chairman of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria
Gaza Strip, urged Israeli leaders not to repeat the mistake of
Dayan called on the government to say, “‘Yes, we will
build in [east] Jerusalem.’ Say, ‘No, we will not extend the [10-month
housing-start] moratorium, and we will continue to build in Judea and
Gaza evacuees at the ceremony spoke of their longing for their former
Vanunu, a father of four, said he is among the 15 percent of Gaza
evacuees who have a permanent home.
The remaining 85%, he said, are still
living in temporary housing. But he added that he anticipates a dramatic
around in their condition in 2011.
Vanunu said he expects that 18 new
communities will finally be ready for the evacuees during that year and
many of them will be able to move into homes in these new towns.