...They swallowed their pain, even when some living in the Gaza periphery for months called them "occupiers" and demanded that they "come home." The kibbutzniks were convinced that if their neighbors in the old Gaza periphery would just pack up their belongings, there would be peace on Israel, and the Palestinians would turn their swords into plowshares.
17 August '14..
More than 6,000 mortars fell on Gush Katif communities in its last years. Mortars are known for their incoming whistle and the explosion just after they hit. There is no siren or Color Red alert for the mortars, which caused destruction and anxiety but could not force the residents out of their homes. Unlike some Tel Avivians during the Gulf War, unlike some of the residents of Kiryat Shmona when Katyusha rockets were fired at them, and unlike some of the Gaza periphery residents only recently, the people of Gush Katif exemplified unrecognizable Jewish steadfastness. Every day of green grass, laundry drying in the breeze, planting in greenhouses and studying Torah -- even when the sword of their brothers who would forcibly evacuate them rested on their necks -- was for them an almost holy commandment. We are the country's bulletproof vest, they said, not concealing their pride.
The forgotten history of Gush Katif is relevant today. Not as criticism of those who chose to leave their Gaza border homes until things were over (more than a few chose to stay, but the media focused on those who left) -- the people of Kfar Aza, Nahal Oz or Ein Hashlosha have every right to evacuate their children and themselves to a safe place and demand that the state provide them with security. No one who isn't in their place can judge them.
In contrast, the heroic story of Gush Katif is a story that should be retold today, because at the time the people there were accused by some sectors of the Israeli public of "sacrificing their children" and using them for political purposes. The "Gushniks" who were carrying on the great Zionist tradition of devotion and keeping hold of the Land in the face of disease, plague, terrorist attacks and war did not leave; they quietly swallowed the insults. They were silent when it became clear that the army was responding to the increasing shelling on Sderot, while ignoring the shelling on them. They even kept quiet when their neighbors in Sderot saw their city included in the list of border conflict communities (a status that grants significant material benefits), while they, who had been attacked much more for years, were ignored.
They swallowed their pain, even when some living in the Gaza periphery for months called them "occupiers" and demanded that they "come home." The kibbutzniks were convinced that if their neighbors in the old Gaza periphery would just pack up their belongings, there would be peace on Israel, and the Palestinians would turn their swords into plowshares. Now, after many have asked the residents of Gush Katif for forgiveness, it's time for the residents of the Gaza periphery communities to do the same.
Because in contrast to their theory, the "poor, occupied Palestinians" turned the desert oasis and the green fields of Gush Katif into munitions depots. The ruins of the "Gush" and its northernmost communities -- Dugit, Eley Sinai, and Nisanit -- became Hamas military outposts and platforms from which to launch rockets at you and large parts of Israel. The Palestinians even used parts of the construction materials from the rubble of Gush Katif when they built their attack tunnels leading to your communities. In particular, forgiveness should be asked of the children of Gush Katif and others there who were expelled, who in this latest war fought valiantly alongside the other soldiers to restore quiet to the south and strike at the terrorists who moved into the rubble of their former homes.
It took great nobility of spirit for them to do so. It's not something to take for granted. In your demonstration last week, residents of the south, many just, true words were said. But I missed these: "People of Gush Katif, forgive us."