Gush Katif evictees, 2010
Gush Katif evictees, 2010Israel news photo: Flash 90

Officials of the Gush Katif Residents' Committee over the weekend sent a letter of condolence to the family of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef z”tl, informing them of the Rabbi's concern over their situation in the months leading up to, and after, the 2005 "Disengagement" which saw thousands of Jews deported from Gaza and northern Samaria (Shomron). In the face of tragedy, they said, The Rabbi's door was “always open to us.”

Rabbi Yosef was a fierce critic of the Disengagement, and spoke out against it many times. In May 2005, the Likud held a referendum on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's proposed disengagement plan, which entailed throwing some 10,000 Jews out of their homes in Gush Katif and northern Samaria. In the weeks before the vote, Yosef spoke almost exclusively about the referendum, ordering his followers to vote against the disengagement. Many observers at the time said that the fact that 65% of Likud members voted to oppose the disengagement plan was due at least in part to Rabbi Yosef's influence.

In the letter, members of the Committee wrote that the Rabbi's death was “a great loss for the Jewish people. Rabbi Yosef's door was always open to us, especially during the time of our greatest suffering. He always received us with great warmth and said many prayers for us.” Unfortunately, “he was unable to cancel the edict, but we greatly appreciated the Rabbi's efforts.”

In addition to prayers and a show of concern, the Committee said, Rabbi Yosef also ordered communities led by his students to assist Gush Katif refugees any way they could, including absorbing them into their communities.

“His Torah, his prayers, and his concern will be greatly missed,” the letter added.