Stocking Up

Today, Sunday, August 14, Tisha B'Av, is our last legal day to be in Gush Katif.

Rachel Saperstein, Neve Dkalim/Nitzan

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Today, Sunday, August 14, Tisha B'Av, is our last legal day to be in Gush Katif. The government has given us two extra days to pack our belongings and place them into large, red shipping containers, and leave our homes quietly.

Afterwards, they will shut down our electricity, water, land and mobile phones, and computer access. Our medical clinic officially closes today and, to add insult to injury, its entire contents - furniture, drugs, medical equipment - are being transferred to an Arab village. Our bank, post office and library are closed. All of our official representatives on the regional council have been fired. We have no formal leadership.

Tomorrow, the roads are to be totally closed to incoming traffic. You can leave, but you can never return. Even traffic between settlements is no longer allowed.

No more food supplies are allowed in. Our greengrocer closed his shop for good late Friday.

Right now, eight people are living with us. On Shabbat, we had ten for lunch and fifteen for Seudah Shlishit, the third Sabbath meal, and the final meal before the Tisha B'Av fast.

We have a cache of bottled water and canned goods, long-life milk, tissue paper and refill bottles for washing, cleaning and flushing. Parents have stocked up on baby formula and diapers.

We are under an army blockade. Without food, water and electricity, we are heading for a humanitarian disaster. Sanitary conditions are deteriorating. Without basic survival requirements, we will soon have an outbreak of intestinal ailments.

Two of our guests are Christa and Johan Rhodius, a Christian couple from Holland. Johan is a lawyer and together, we have drafted a press release covering the legal ramifications of this government's abuse of the human rights of its citizens. I have appeared on radio and television, including CNN, Sky News and American ABC, telling the world of our plight.

We are holding tight.

At least ten thousand people have streamed into Gush Katif. Every available home, schoolroom and public shelter is occupied, as are most lawns.

Last night, at a town hall meeting held on the grass - because no hall was large enough to accommodate the crowd - we were told the army will deliver formal letters of expulsion Monday morning, giving us 48 hours to leave or be forcibly expelled. I see my friends and neighbors. We hug, we kiss, we weep, we comfort each other.

We see the moving vans at people's homes. Some have broken. They can't stand the pressure any longer. Few come to see them off. Both those leaving and those remaining are ashamed at their departure. I understand them.

Some who have already left have yet to receive the government compensation promised. There is always one more paper to sign.

We have not signed anything. We can't bring ourselves to grovel before the government. We have put our paperwork in the hands of the legal representatives of Gush Katif.

It has begun. From midnight to 8:00am this morning, the 9th of Av, the day of major Jewish calamities, all electricity in Gush Katif was turned off.

I am in despair. Is this our last week in Gush Katif?

Please, G-d, let the miracle happen. Please, G-d, let me see it.