House Destruction in Gush Katif
House Destruction in Gush Katif Israel News Photo (archives)

As the fifth anniversary of Israel's expulsion and pullout from Gaza approaches, Yesha [Judea and Samaria] Council’s rabbis are calling on the general public to participate in a day of fasting and prayer to mark this day.

Arutz 7 spoke on Sunday with the spokesman for Yesha Council’s committee of rabbis, Rabbi Daniel Shilo, who said that the call for the fast was a joint venture by rabbis of Yesha in cooperation rabbis from other communities, including hareidi religious rabbis and religious-Zionist rabbis.

According to Rabbi Shilo, the climax of the fast day will be an event that will be held on Wednesday afternoon in the Hurva Synagogue located in the Old City of Jerusalem. During the event there will be a call for the public not to forget the expulsion of Jews and pullout of the IDF and not to let such an event happen again. The rabbi added that the call is being reinforced in light of reports of intentions to repeat the same policy in Judea and Samaria.

As part of the fast, Torah classes will be held, special laments will be said, and the Torah will be publicly read as is customary during a public fast.

Rabbi Shilo explained that the date for the fast is the 8th day of Elul, the same day “the IDF finally came out of Gush Katif and locked the last door of the Jews in Gush Katif, and since the presence of IDF is the dominant Jewish presence there, we see in this day an end to the calamity.”

During the interview, Rabbi Shilo also addressed the position of Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger, who in a recently published article said that there is no place for such a fast day. Rabbi Metzger explained his position by saying that there is no authority that can establish a fast on all of Israel. Rabbi Metzger added that “the issue of the displacement from Gush Katif was the subject of a sharp and painful public controversy, and a regulation that perpetuates this displacement in a day of fasting and remembering the destruction is likely to increase the division within the people.”

Rabbi Shilo does not accept Rabbi Metzger’s argument and said that it is impossible to forget the displacement in order to avoid disagreements, and that doing so will allow those who wish to perform such acts again to do so. “Yom Ha’atzmaut is also divisive and yet it is celebrated. If we go by this principle, we will not do a lot more things,” he said, and added that Rabbi Metzger’s position is not accepted by the rabbis, the organizers and the supporters of the event.

He added that the perpetrators of the uprooting from Gaza should have left the communities in their place. “It is unacceptable in the modern world that a change of government would require displacement of civilians, except in the case of Jews who are always persecuted. The Jews were expelled due to the Arabs’ hatred of them and for no other reason. The Arabs were not in Gush Katif long before the Jews. When the state was established, there were only 17,000 Arabs there. They only came there after we arrived. That’s why the communities should have been left in place. The uprooting gave legitimacy to hatred.”

A recent LA Times report summarized the pullout from Gaza as “a big mistake.”

The August 8 article entitled “Lessons and Legacies of Israel's Gaza Withdrawal” by Edmund Sanders lists a series of conclusions that can be drawn from the pullout, among them that it helped put Hamas in power, worsened the security of Israelis, and contributed to the isolation of Israel internationally.

During a recent visit to the Nitzan community of victims of the pullout, Minister of Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein disputed the claim that the expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif helped Israel's image. Edelstein said that such action should never be repeated and that the claim that the pullout would promote Israel's image may have been right for a week or two but has since been proven wrong.