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GUSH KATIF IS OFFICIALLY CLOSED

The IDF and police are forbidding entry to all non-residents of Gush Katif. Jewish residents of Gaza are now officially isolated from the rest of Israel, and are living in a closed-military-zone.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 7/13/2005, 9:12 AM / Last Update: 7/13/2005, 10:35 AM

Visitors to Gush Katif are being turned back at the Kisufim Junction, in this new stage of the proposed expulsion plan. The military closure was instituted at 10:30 AM, Wednesday morning.

Residents of Gush Katif have been expecting the closure, but are now faced with being completely isolated from the rest of the Israeli population.

Reaction in the Gush Katif Regional Council offices ranged this morning from nervous laughter to fear and apprehension. "This is it," one person said. "My brother is supposed to come to visit me," another said. "Will he be allowed in?" Young girls living in Katif for their year of National Service worried aloud whether they would be allowed to travel freely.

The Yesha Council responded to the closure stating, “This is the first time in history that a Jewish Prime Minister has placed a siege on a Jewish town and declared that part of the Land of Israel should be ‘clean of Jews.’”

The Council’s statement also noted, “This is another part of the Prime Minister’s plan to create a split in the nation, and to trample on the values of democracy, Zionism and the residents. Is this his answer to yesterday’s murderous terrorist attack?”

Gaza Coast Regional Dror Vanunu, director of the Katif Region Development Fund, said with disbelief, “In the month of Tammuz, a siege has been placed on a Jewish area in the Land of Israel.” He was referring with irony to the siege placed on Jerusalem by the Babylonians 2,500 years ago in the month of Tammuz.

Rumors had been circulating in the twenty-one communities of Gush Katif for days of the impending closure. They became more substantial this morning, and at 10:30am the closure was levied. Confirmation of the closure was given by individuals were turned back after trying to enter Gush Katif at the Kisufim Junction.

Many families from around the country were planning to arrive in Gush Katif in upcoming days, to help bolster the population and make the expulsion more difficult on the government and military. The decision to make Gush Katif a closed-military-zone was made to ward off increased supporter presence.

The Yesha Council has been planning a mass march to Gush Katif, this coming Monday. The organizers are hoping that tens of thousands of people will arrive by car in the Negev city of Netivot on Monday afternoon, and begin what could be a three-day trek to Kisufim.

The Evacuation/Compensation Law legislated by the Knesset earlier this year authorized Prime Minister Sharon to declare Gush Katif and northern Shomron "closed areas" at any time. One Gush Katif resident referred to the law as the Eviction/Theft Law.

Katif was previously closed twelve days ago for approximately twenty-four hours during the forced evacuation of the Maoz Yam Hotel. The closure was lifted in time for Sabbath visitors to arrive in the area.

Several communities in the area are in the midst of preparing living accomodations for new families to arrive. Tent-sites are being erected in Shirat HaYam, Kfar Darom, Kerem Atzmonah, Netzer Hazani, and elsewhere. In Morag, Gush Katif's eastern-most community, homes were being prepared for six families to move in to the unused second-floors.

Gush residents now wonder whether these sites will ever be populated, and whether they have the means to halt the impending evacuation process.


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