“If Gush Katif didn’t exist we would have to invent it,” said Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin when touring the Gush Katif region.
“You are the first line of defense of this country,” stated Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in a speech in Gush Katif, 2002.
Today the Gush Katif region as well as the Western Negev is under daily, almost hourly bombardment. Time bombs are placed on the roads, infiltrators try incursions into the area, roadside shootings are a daily occurrence. Therefore the IDF has had to increase its presence in the Gaza area.
The IDF’s role in Gaza is (1) to find the primary perpetrators and eliminate them, (2) to locate and destroy the factories where the primitive but deadly mortars, rockets and bombs are being manufactured, (3) to blow up the dozens of tunnels in Rafah where vast quantities of sophisticated armaments are being smuggled into Gaza via Egypt, and (4) to locate and terminate the Hamas leadership that trains and sends out the perpetrators of these attacks into the Gush Katif region and into other parts of Israel. The area of Gaza is a festering sore of Arab insurgency whose credo is the total destruction of Israel. The potential for disaster to Israeli cities stems primarily from the Gaza region.
The only piece of land that has remained stable in this area and acts as a buffer zone are the Gush Katif communities. The 21 settlements – fifteen southern settlements, two central, four northern – divide the Gaza Strip into three sections. This division makes it impossible for the northern and southern sections of the Gaza Strip to join together to become a more cohesive Arab fighting unit.
Gush Katif was invented by the Rabin government in order to have a raison d’etre for an IDF army and naval presence in Gaza. Ostensibly the IDF guards the civilian Jewish population living in an area of over one million Arabs. In reality Gush Katif exists to provide the army and navy in the area a base from which to keep an eye on this volatile piece of land.
IDF held back
The IDF presence grew during the first Intifadeh, before and after the Oslo Accords. Today the most deadly conflicts in Israel come from Gaza. The Arab cities in Judea and Samaria are being systematically made terrorist free. The army has apparently been held back from a similar cleanup in the Gaza Strip, keeping it a hotbed of warfare.
Western Negev hit
The entire Western Negev is being hit by mortars and rockets on a daily basis. The amount of hits are simply not reported in the press as the kibbutzim are Labor and Mapam establishments. It is strange that the Labor party does not demand protection for “its own people” in the south. The intense bombardment of these kibbutzim is being swept under the carpet so that Gush Katif can be the scapegoat. If only the Gush Katif settlers did not exist the Arabs would cease shelling the Negev and everyone would live in peace.
Living in the Tel Aviv area or in the northern cities of Israel one forgets that there is a developed area in the south. The Ashkelon power station is a few-seconds missile launch away. Sederot is already a prime daily target. Even Mr. Sharon’s Havat HaShikma ranch is in rocket range. Ashdod is next.
Rag-tag to sophisticated
According to the disengagement plan the Palestinian Authority will receive Israeli rifles, Egyptian combat training, and be put under the direct rule of a confessed murderer, Mohammad Dahlan. We will help turn a rag-tag army into a sophisticated fighting machine. The Western Negev is without a doubt a prime target for an intensive war after an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
Protecting its citizens
The role of the IDF is to protect its citizens wherever they are being attacked by an enemy. We do not expel the Jews – we fight the enemy. Gush Katif people are tax-paying citizens of Israel. They and their children serve in the army. They are hardworking farmers bringing much needed tax dollars into the national coffers. They are teachers. They are moms and dads – like you.
To the Jewish mother who declared “My son is being sent to Gaza to be killed because of settlers like you!”, the answer is simple. Your child, your husband, your father, is in the Israeli army. There is a war in Gaza and your loved one has the proud responsibility of fighting for his/her people. Today Gush Katif and the Western Negev are on the front line. Tomorrow it might be your town or city. I hope no one will declare “Because of you…. !”
Be proud that s/he is in Gaza in order to fight a vicious Arab enemy. And in the same vein – Refuse! Refuse! Refuse to allow your son or daughter to participate in the expulsion of Jews from their homes and land in Eretz Yisrael!