Southern City to Name New Streets for Katif Towns

For the first time in Israel, a city council has decided to name the streets of an entire neighborhood for the destroyed Gush Katif communities.

Hillel Fendel,

For the first time in Israel, a city council - Kiryat Gat - has decided to name the streets of an entire neighborhood for the destroyed Gush Katif communities. Kiryat Gat is located 16 kilometers (ten miles) northeast of Kassam-beleaguered Sderot.

The city council unanimously approved the proposal to name the new streets for the towns destroyed in the Disengagement of 2005.  Under the Disengagement Plan, then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Sha'ul Mofaz expressed the hope that destroying the Jewish towns in Gush Katif and handing over the area to the Arabs of Gaza would improve security for Israel, and promised that terrorist rockets and shells into Israel would be dealt with harshly.

The main streets in the new Kiryat Gat neighborhood will be named after the larger communities, such as N'vei Dekalim, Katif, and Netzer Hazani, while the lanes and smaller roads will be named after small towns such as Shirat HaYam, Morag, and others.

"Already during the sad days of the expulsion," said councilman Chaim Shalom, who proposed the idea, "I felt that, in addition to our hosting of the expellees and the other help we gave them, we had to do something that would really engrave in our consciousness what happened there."

Cohen is remembered favorably by Gush Katif supporters as the one who was locked into his office by the Shabak when then-Defense Minister Mofaz arrived in the city - because Cohen had said he would protest strongly against Mofaz.

Why the Labor Member Changed His Mind
Cohen had tried to pass the street-naming resolution several times in the past two years, but was not able to muster the necessary majority. However, yesterday the resolution passed unanimously. What changed? "The Labor Party member told me that he had always objected to what I had written in the local papers against the Disengagement," Cohen said, "but he changed his mind in light of the results of the expulsion we are all seeing now - and now he says he agrees with every word I wrote."

"When I wrote articles warning that Kiryat Gat would soon be threatened by Kassams," Cohen said, "people attacked me and said I was a prophet of doom. But today they all agree I was right." Kassams have not yet hit Kiryat Gat, but the city is within range of the more powerful missiles.

Cohen hopes to hold the naming ceremony on the second anniversary of the Disengagement, in the presence of the former residents of the areas and prominent public figures.