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      Fifth Anniversary of Ongoing Gush Katif Tragedy to be Marked

      The fifth anniversary of one of the worst tragedies in the history of the State of Israel will be marked this week in Israel and around the world.
      By Hillel Fendel
      First Publish: 7/11/2010, 6:44 PM / Last Update: 7/11/2010, 9:08 PM

      GushKatif.co.il

      The fifth anniversary of one of the worst tragedies in the history of the State of Israel will be marked this week at Kissufim and elsewhere in Israel and around the world.

      This Wednesday, the 3rd of the Jewish month of Av, will kick off the fifth anniversary commemorations of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and some areas in northern Samaria. It resulted in expulsion, loss of employment, wandering and uncertainty for thousands of Jews over the course of the ensuing five years – and counting.

      8,800 people in 1,800 families were expelled and uprooted, 25 communities and 400 farms were destroyed, 26 synagogues were demolished, hundreds of businesses were liquidated, and 35 years of accomplishments were wiped out.

      The main memorial ceremony is to be held Wednesday evening near Kibbutz Kissufim in the Negev, where the entrance to Gush Katif – the Katif bloc of Jewish towns in Gaza – used to be. “We will show up at what used to be the entrance to Jewish Gaza,” the organizers say, “to express longing, to pledge faithfulness, and to pass the flag to the next generation.”

      At 6:00 PM, torches will be lit by representatives of the 21 Gush Katif communities, followed by a play put on by children whose childhood in Gush Katif was abruptly cut off. Teenagers will participate in a treasure hunt/hike.

      Around the country, solidarity events will be held at the same hour.

      On Thursday evening, July 15, the OU Israel Center in Jerusalem will hold an English-language Gush Katif event. Dror Vanunu, International Coordinator of the Gush Katif Fund, and Rachel Saperstein, Director of  Operation Dignity, will speak, and an exclusive film produced by the Gush Katif Committee will be shown.                                 

      The Katif Od Chai – Katif Still Lives - nationwide campaign begins on July 20. It will feature parlor meetings, films – and a massive fund-raising project for “18 (Chai) New Communities” and “18 (Chai) New Projects.”

      In addition to three existing communities that Gush Katif expellees have built and settled over the last five years (Shvut Katif in Yad Binyamin, Tene-Omarim in southern Judea, and Mavkiim south of Ashkelon), 18 new communities are being built – bureaucracy and money permitting.

      Among them are a new neighborhood in Avnei Eitan in the Golan; Katif Amatzia in the Negev by former residents of Moshav Katif; the N’veh Herzog neighborhood in Ashkelon by expellees from Nisanit; Be’er Ganim north of Ashkelon; a new neighborhood in Bustan HaGalil in the Galilee, by expellees from Nisanit and Dugit; Naveh, in the Halutz area, by former Atzmona-ites; Neta (Mirsham), in the Negev, by residents from Tel Katifa and Kfar Darom; and more.

      In addition, the 18 new projects include:

      • Joint construction for families, involving the standardized construction of new homes for 150-200 families who are unable to build on their own.
      • Two regional community centers and four youth centers for extra-curricular, cultural and supportive activities
      • Construction of synagogues in Talmei Yafeh, Yesodot and Maskiyot.
      Other projects include family unit workshops and lectures; 150 student scholarships; financial assistance to needy families; medical assistance; start-up business grants; vocational retraining; lobbying for farmers who wish to return to farming; the Gush Katif Legacy Center; and more.

      For more information, click here. http://www.gushkatif.co.il/