Gush Katif Day will be marked for the first time by 75 secular schools on Wednesday, the date of the founding of Netzer Hazani, the Katif Bloc's first Jewish community, 34 years ago.
The community was destroyed along with nearly 20 others in the “Disengagement” expulsion program carried out in the summer of 2005 by then-Prime Ariel Sharon.
The Knesset previously passed into law that the 22nd day of the Hebrew month of Shevat, which this year falls on Wednesday, is noted as Gush Katif Day. Approximately 700 public religious high schools mark the day every year, but secular schools previously have not participated – until this year.
The decision by secular schools to mark Gush Katif Day represents a gradual change in the perception of Israel society of the national religious community, which was libeled by mainstream media following the murder of former Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin 16 years ago. His convicted murderer, Yigal Amir, was religious. Contrary to initial radio reports at the time, he lived in Herzliya and not in Judea and Samaria.
Educational activities in the schools will feature a CD disk on “Gush Katif – an Israeli Story.” Approximately 120 residents of the destroyed Gush Katif communities will speak.
Activities in the schools will include games, films and stories on Gush Katif as a Zionist enterprise. School children will discuss the former residents’ struggles with personal, collective and national identities as well as the dilemma facing a Jewish democratic society.