Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin took part Thursday in a memorial ceremony for Jews from Gush Katif who were exhumed and reburied in the Har Zeitim (Mount of Olives) cemetery in Jerusalem.
Jewish graves were dug up and relocated to Jerusalem in 2005, during the “Disengagement” unilateral Israeli withdrawal, in which 9,000 Jews were deported from 17 communities in Gaza, and two others (Homesh and Sanur) in Samaria.
“These are difficult days, with a threat hovering over the undivided land of Israel. I pray we will not need to uproot our dead a third time,” Rivlin said at the ceremony.
Rivlin expressed regret for the transfer of graves during the Disengagement. “We came back here to beg forgiveness of the holy, pure ones who lived and died and were buried in the good land of Gaza, who did not even get their final rest,” he said.
“We also came to beg forgiveness from the evicted families, who, as if the pain of the destruction of their homes was not enough, were also forced to uproot their loved one’s cemetery plots,” he continued.
“The pain of the expulsion [from Gaza] still burns within us, but despite the deep scars in our flesh, we still have strength to continue,” he added.
Deputy Foreign Minister Zev Elkin (Likud Beyteinu) linked the Disengagement to the current diplomatic talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. “In these days in particular, when all kinds of people have all kinds of ideas about the future of the country, I think that if there is any meaning to the disaster of the Disengagement, to the pain and loss we experienced, it is that we learn from our mistakes,” he declared.
“We must see the Disengagement as a warning, as a memory of injustice that undermined the security of the citizens of the state of Israel,” he stated.
On Wednesday, a small memorial to the destroyed synagogues of Gaza’s Jewish communities was installed in the Knesset synagogue.