Gush Katif Legacy Center opens near Ashkelon

gush katif rally 298 (photo credit: Ahmad Gharabli [file])
gush katif rally 298
(photo credit: Ahmad Gharabli [file])
The Gush Katif Legacy Center was officially inaugurated in Nitzan, north of Ashkelon, on Wednesday. The center documents 35 years of Gush Katif's 17 former Jewish settlements, and was founded by members of the former Gush Katif education bureau. The center's collection includes hundreds of photographs, dozens of studies conducted by Israeli professors and students, nearly 50 books written since Gush Katif's 8,000 residents were evacuated in 2005, and several testimonies by former residents. The inauguration ceremony honored the 50 founding settlers of Gush Katif, who then saw the launching of a new stamp in memory of Gush Katif by the Israel Postal Company. According to Dror Vanunu, the Gush Katif Legacy Center's international coordinator, the center's message is simple: "The one who remembers the past will be able to build the future." Organizers intend to evolve the archive into a museum and education center that will serve as a database on the history of Gush Katif. "We don't want to make the same mistake as Yamit [in Sinai], which was settled, disengaged from in 1982, and forgotten," Vanunu told The Jerusalem Post. "It will be a place where scholars from around the world can come and learn, where schools can visit with their students, and for tourists to learn about a very significant part of the history of the State of Israel." The project is set to cost approximately $4 million, of which $1m. has already been collected from private donors. The government has agreed to cover all maintenance costs. Kobi Bornstein, one of the founders of the Legacy Center, said the story of Gush Katif reflects the story of the State of Israel - community, agriculture, settling the land, faith, Zionism, overcoming obstacles and coping with terrorism - this is what it means to be Israeli," he said. The Legacy Center will emphasize the 35 years of life in Gush Katif more than its painful final year. Its founders hope it will aid the healing process of former residents as well as provide an accurate perspective to less connected visitors. "Hopefully it will help them [evacuees] reconnect and rebuild," Vanunu said. The Center's founders hope to present the story of Gush Katif, its existence and destruction, in a way that can be related to by all Israelis regardless of age, political affiliation or religious identity. "It is part of Israel's history and also, we believe, Israel's future," Bornstein told the Post, "This is a history and future that belongs to all of us."