Just Before Communications Are Cut

I am writing to you now, because very soon, all communications with Gush Katif will be blocked. Yes, we were told that, closer to August 15, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will give instructions to block all phone and Internet lines in Gush Katif, and will prevent the media from entering the area in order to tell the world what is going on.

Nadia Matar

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I am writing to you from Kfar Yam, Gush Katif, where we moved with our family a couple of months ago. Our family of eight shares a small caravan with a family of close friends, the Finkelsteins, co-leaders of Women in Green.

In addition, our place has become one of the many headquarters for youth who have managed, over the past two weeks, to enter Gush Katif despite the infamous closure. Understanding that the only way to stop the uprooting of Gush Katif is by bringing the tens of thousands down here, fourteen- to eighteen-year-old children from all over the country have spent hours on the road, hitch-hiking to the Kissufim junction and then finding their way around the roadblocks without being caught by the security forces, walking through fields, hiding at night, faking their identity - all in order to come to Gush Katif. Hundreds of youths have already succeeded in arriving and have joined the different organized groups that live in school buildings, yeshivas or with private people like ourselves. They spend their time helping the Gush Katif residents, building, planting, babysitting, etc. In addition, hundreds of families, with babies and young children, have also managed to find their way inside, and live now in the tent cities built by the Kela Administration, or have found lodging with families or in refurbished homes.

I am writing to you now, because very soon, all communications with Gush Katif will be blocked. Yes, we were told that, closer to August 15, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will give instructions to block all phone and Internet lines in Gush Katif, and will prevent the media from entering the area in order to tell the world what is going on.

I am writing to you now because terrible things are happening and more terrible things will happen if we don't stop the madness now. The bottom line is that Prime Minister Sharon knows that the majority of the people of Israel oppose his unilateral capitulation plan. But, as a true dictator, he will do all he can to force this plan upon us.

The last two weeks are proof that Prime Minister Sharon is turning Israel into a real fascist police state, and I feel it is my obligation to tell you at least a few of the stories from what is going on.

Let us start with the police brutality against demonstrators and the collaboration of the corrupt court system, backing the government blindly. The stories we hear from around the country are just unbearable. A rabbi who was handing out orange ribbons to cars in the Tel Aviv area was beaten to a pulp and falsely accused of "blocking roads". He was sent for three months to jail. Fourteen-year-old girls, arrested for blocking roads, were beaten, sent to jail for months and in jail, are treated as if they were terrorists. A participant in a vigil against disengagement in Ramat Gan was thrown to the floor by five policemen. While holding his arms behind his back, one of the policemen stuck his fingers in the demonstrator's nostrils and was viciously pulling back his head. I could go on and on.

In Kfar Maimon, the police beat up Judea, Samaria and Gaza leaders, breaking the ribs of one of them, and threatened that if anyone dared to cut the fence, they would shoot to kill. One of the heads of the police was caught on microphone telling his men to break the bones of the demonstrators if they dared to march to Gush Katif.

The message is clear: Sharon the dictator wants to scare us from even daring to come out and protest. The good news, of course, is that the more they beat us, the more determined people are to come out and protest. The cumulative 100,000 people in Kfar Maimon last week are proof that we have an army of determined people. If we only find the proper leadership, that will give them the proper instructions next time, those people will, please G-d, succeed in bursting into Gush Katif.

Let us continue with what is going on in and around Gush Katif. I personally do not leave the area at all, because, despite the fact that I and my family are official Gush Katif residents, I was told that I am on the list of those the security forces plan to pull out of their homes in the middle of the night, a couple of days before the uprooting. But from the testimonies we have gotten as to what is going on at the Kissufim checkpoint, it is difficult not to make associations with what our enemies did to us in Europe. Those are harsh words, but how else would you describe the unbearable humiliations Jews are undergoing at the checkpoints?

Instead of having the security forces patrol the area to protect Jews and chase Arab terrorists, the forces are stationed at six different checkpoints, looking for "illegal" Jews; i.e., Jews who are not residents of Gush Katif, to make sure they do not enter the Gush Katif ghetto. In other words, a ride that used to take a maximum of two hours from Jerusalem has turned into a nightmare, with roadblocks, humiliations, long waits and often sudden arrests. Family members of Gush Katif residents are obligated to go through a long process of getting a certificate allowing them to enter Gush Katif and visit their relatives, but only for 72 hours, otherwise they, and their hosts, will get arrested.

Until a few days ago, only the driver of a car needed to show his ID card, and if he could show that he was a Gush Katif resident, anybody in his car could get in. Now, the hands around our neck have tightened. Everybody is checked.

Friends of ours drove down to Gush Katif. They had a permit because they had a family occasion, so they were allowed to enter. On their way, they gave a ride to a teenager who was trying to get in to Gush Katif to join his friends. He had learned by heart the name of a kid in Gush Katif and was going to pretend he was that person. The police asked him for his name. He gave his fake name. They asked for the ID. He had learned it by heart and answered correctly. Then, the policeman took his little computer and said: "If you are really so-and-so, then I am sure you can tell me what the names of your brothers and sisters are? The poor boy did not know them, of course, and was immediately dragged out of the car with brutal force and arrested.

My husband David was arrested this past Friday for a couple of hours when he did not answer the policeman fast enough at the first checkpoint on his way down to Gush Katif, after a full week of not having seen us. He played music in the car and was accused of "blocking the road with loud music".

A Holocaust survivor, a resident of Gush Katif, refused to identify herself on her way out of the Gush (yes, now you also need to identify yourself on the way out). She said that she came to Israel to be "free in her country" and cannot fathom the idea of having to prove that she is a 'kosher" Jewess. She was arrested on the spot. Four Gush Katif residents who participated in demonstrations received orders to stay away from Gush Katif forever. Recently, we were informed by Maariv newspaper that the Egged bus line from Ashkelon to Gush Katif has been cancelled.

On to the last report from Gush Katif. We were told that the security forces plan on carrying out a mass arrest and deportation of all the "illegal" Jews in Gush Katif. Proof that the rumor is probably true is the non-stop rounds made over the last few days by General Security Service agents, who come in their cars to the different tent cities and areas known to host outside guests, and continuously film and take notes. We spent hours at a meeting discussing how to hide the hundreds of such supporters. How low have we sunk that we have to teach our children how to run away from the security forces and into hiding places, in order not to be arrested and deported from parts of our own homeland?

After reading all this one may ask: do we have any chance to prevent Sharon from implementing his evil decree? And the answer is: yes! Our strength is in our numbers. Kfar Maimon proved that we can get together a crowd of over 100,000 committed Jews. In addition, the last few weeks have proven beyond any doubt that, as brutal as the police are, the soldiers are with us. And Sharon cannot carry out his plan without the soldiers. For the next two weeks, people must do all they can to find their way into Gush Katif and stay. In addition, all protests and demonstrations must continue and increase in order to keep the police forces busy.

Closer to Tisha B'Av will be when, once again, the masses we saw in Kfar Maimon will have to gather, and this time, will have to burst into Gush Katif, no matter what the so-called official leaders will say. No force will be able to stop such strength of numbers, especially when it is clear that thousands of soldiers will be joining the Gush Katif supporters. With G-d's help, we will succeed!