OpinionIsrael at War

Rebuild Gush Katif

The 22 Jewish communities expelled in 2005 protected Israel’s south for years.

Israeli homes in Neve Dekalim, Gush Katif. Credit: Yakov Ben-Avraham via Wikimedia Commons.
Israeli homes in Neve Dekalim, Gush Katif. Credit: Yakov Ben-Avraham via Wikimedia Commons.
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Joseph Frager
Dr. Joseph Frager is a lifelong activist and physician. He is chairman of Israel advocacy for the Rabbinical Alliance of America, chairman of the executive committee of American Friends of Ateret Cohanim and executive vice president of the Israel Heritage Foundation.

After the horrific Oct. 7 slaughter of innocent civilians by Hamas on our holy Sabbath and holiday, it is not enough to crush Hamas. It is time to discuss reestablishing the 22 Jewish communities that were expelled from Gaza in 2005.

Had those towns not been “disengaged,” the current situation would be vastly different. They were the frontlines protecting Israel’s south, acting as a buffer zone to prevent the barbaric and depraved assault we all have witnessed. They were also better fortified and better equipped than the towns struck on Simchat Torah.

With the expulsion of 10,000 Jews from Gush Katif in 2005, Hamas got that much closer to large population centers. There was relative calm in the south of Israel for the 30-plus years the 22 Jewish communities existed there.

I had the opportunity to see firsthand the tremendous value of the Jewish Gush Katif enclave in Gaza. There were no successful infiltrations by Hamas. The Shabbat I stayed there in April of 2005, three infiltrators were caught immediately.

After the so-called disengagement, Hamas took control over Gaza. Israel gave up one of the world’s great agricultural enterprises, especially of organically grown vegetables. Hamas immediately destroyed any trace of these farms. They desecrated all of the beautiful synagogues and yeshivot. They turned the area into a site for launching rockets at Israel.

Millions of dollars have been given to Gaza by international donors. Instead of using the money for agriculture, Hamas built terror tunnels. The south has had few days of quiet since the expulsion of Gaza’s Jews.

In 2006, Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit was abducted and Israel carried out Operation Summer Rains, which lasted from June 28 to November 26, 2006. Unfortunately, it did not stop the missile attacks.

In June 2014, three Israeli teenagers—Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel—were abducted and murdered, setting off Operation Protective Edge, which lasted from July 8 to Aug. 5, 2014. Unfortunately, this ground operation did not finish off Hamas. Missile attacks in the thousands continued.

Now, the grisly murder of over 1,500 (the number continues to rise) and the abduction of some 200  men, women and children has made Israel determined to finally put Hamas out of business. It will take a unified front from not only Israel but all of its allies. When this is accomplished, and it won’t be easy, I would call for the establishment of a new Gush Katif. I am sure if those Israelis who were tortured, butchered and murdered could speak, they would agree.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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