Eight years after 8,000 residents of Gush Katif and northern Samaria were expelled from their homes as part of the “disengagement” plan, one of the police commanders at the time has apologized for his part in the eviction.
Meir Ben-Yishai, who served as the Deputy Commander of the police forces who carried out the 2005 eviction, visited the Gush Katif Museum in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
Ben-Yishai, today a retired police officer, is remembered by the Gush Katif expellees as the man who called to occupants of Gush Katif synagogue, using a public address system, that “evacuation time has come.”
During his three-hour visit to the museum, Ben-Yishai took part in an intense round-table discussion, during which he recalled those days and the difficult feelings that have accompanied him since the eviction. "I live this pain every day," he admitted. "Not a week goes by without someone mentioning it to me."
At the conclusion of the visit, Ben-Yishai signed the museum’s guestbook and apologized for having hurt the residents of Gush Katif eight years ago.
“My wound is still open and painful,” he wrote, “as an officer who protected the residents of Gush Katif as back as 1987. Later on, as a brigade commander in Khan Younis, I found myself evicting you from your homes and your lands, and you were an example, both for me personally and for the entire people of Israel, of the true love for the land of Israel. Under fire, you continued to raise and educate your children. I was jealous of the way that you believed in your work.
“The experience of the eviction accompanies me every day, with a huge pain, and it is my hope that we indeed carried it out with sensitivity and determination. Your work here in the museum is important to the history of Israel. Well done, and I'm sorry if I hurt you.”