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Expulsion Has Begun: Gush Katif Hotel Forcibly Evacuated

In a relatively quick but violent action, police and army forces completed the evacuation of the Maoz HaYam Hotel in Gush Katif this afternoon.
First Publish: 6/30/2005, 8:28 PM / Last Update: 6/30/2005, 3:16 PM

It took less than two hours for hundreds of policemen to forcibly evacuate approximately 150-200 residents of the hotel this afternoon. Televised pictures showed young crying girls wearing orange shirts being dragged away by four and five Border Guard policemen. Some girls were seen with their hands self-bound with orange ribbons.

The residents, who have been there between a few days and a year, were dragged onto waiting buses. One woman who was forcibly evacuated spoke with Arutz-7, and said, "They took us by bus to a place around 40 minutes away - and they just dropped us off! In the middle of nowhere, they told us to get back ourselves!" She said that she was able to hitch a ride back to Gush Katif, and because of her ID card showing that she is an official resident of the area, was allowed in.

"Even more of a scandal than just dropping us off in the middle of nowhere," the woman said, "is the fact that this morning the army did not allow the supermarket truck to make deliveries of milk to our children. My children are starving! If the army would have prevented Arab children from getting milk, what a stink there would be!"

The local police commander confirmed that the closure on Gush Katif is only temporary, and "specifically for the purpose of ridding the area of these extremists in the hotel."

Journalists on the scene were skeptical of this claim. "We'll see if that's what will really happen," said one. "Don't forget that today is the last day of school, and if they open Gush Katif, many people will start streaming in."

A compromise proposal is that Gush Katif residents would be allowed to travel freely, but that checkpoints at the entrance to Gush Katif would carefully screen incoming traffic.

Nadia Matar, of Women in Green, who now lives in Gush Katif, had strong accusations against the Yesha Council and other officials today: "This was a disgusting deal they made, to go along with the army plans to temporarily close off the area in order to clear the area of so-called extremists. This hotel was to be a critical location both for us and for the army during the coming weeks - and this deal enabled them to take it over."

Despite her fury, she said, "We will continue the struggle. True, we won't be able to go back to the hotel, as the army will have taken it over, but we'll work from other places."

One young man who was dragged onto a bus, who has been living in the hotel for over a year, spoke to reporters from the bus. "We have been on a bus for over an hour, but no one has told us where we're going," he said.

"The police and security forces came in and beat us for no reason," the young man said. "People here are really hurt. I told them that we live in the hotel legally; we're on the other side of the hotel, not in the part that's so famous. We are here with all the right permits. But still, we said that we would go out peacefully - and yet they took us away with great force, and hurt us. Now we're on the bus, and have been here for over an hour, no one is telling us where we're going, we haven't been able to see a medic or get something to drink."

The man, speaking with Voice of Israel Radio, said that he, his brother and several friends from Gush Katif have been living in the hotel for several months. Other long-time Gush Katif residents have been living in the hotel for several months as well.

Another of those residents later told Arutz-7 that in fact, he and his friends have been allowed to remain. He said that the above-quoted man was arrested "by mistake," and had already returned home to the hotel.