by David Bedein
Fourth Anniversary Of Explusions Marked: What Do The Katif Communities Look Like Now
An area where Israel continues to cope with is the world wide campaign against Israel’s restrictions of potentially lethal exports into Gaza.
Since the Hamas terror takeover of Gaza in June 2007, Israel did halt the sale of iron, cement and other building materials into Gaza to prevent the construction of fortifications such as underground bunkers and the use iron to manufacture weapons and rockets
On July 16, a group of Philadelphia Rabbis, led by Rabbi Arthur Waskow of Germantown’s Shalom Center, organized Rabbis from all over the United States to conduct an international day of fasting to protest the Israeli “blockade” of humanitarian and medical supplies into gaza.
Due to such pressure, Israel on Thursday allowed renewed export of 300 tons of cement, steel pipes and construction materials into Gaza, for the first time since its military offensive last January.
Rabbi Waskow would not return phone calls to explain why he spread the false rumor that Israel had blocked humanitarian and medical supplies into Gaza.
Mr. Raed Fattouh, an official in the Palestinian Ministry of National Economy, confirmed in an interview with the Palestinian Ma'an news agency that cement would be shipped through UNRWA, the United Nation's relief agency for Palestinian refugees. The Israeli government also approved the transfer of 25 million dollars in cash into Gaza each month, earmarked to pay the salaries of the Palestinian Authority workers and UNRWA workers-
An Israeli security establishment spokesman stressed that "We will carry out all the necessary examinations to ensure that the cement does not fall into the wrong hands-to Hamas,"
However, since Hamas terrorists won an overwhelming victory in the March 2009 UNRWA workers election, with Hamas winning more than 80% of the vote, UNRWA facilities are solidly in the hands of the Hamas terror personnel. This was the third straigt election which affirms the dominant Hamas role in UNRWA.
Israel Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, would not respond to a Bulletin query as to how Israel could avoid cement and cash payments from falling into the hands of Hamas, since Hamas personnel dominate UNRWA facilities in Gaza.
Fourth Anniversary Of Explusions Marked
This week, more than 2,000 people took part yesterday in a rally to mark the fourth anniversary of Israel’s expulsion of 21 Jewish communities from the Katif district of Gaza.
The rally, held near the Kissufim border crossing to the east of Gaza was attended by expelled residents from various Katif communities, including hundreds of teenagers and young children.
"I am a refugee in my own land and am trying to rehabilitate myself,"
said Mr. Avi Farhan, who was evicted from Yamit in the Sinai in April 1982 after the Camp David Accord and then from Elei Sinai in northern Gaza in August 2005. "You need to understand that it is going to take seven years of living out of boxes, moving from one rented apartment to another, until we move into our own house."
At this point in time, 8 out of the 23 permanent communities earmarked for the Katif evictees are still under construction.
In 11 of the communities, preliminary infrastructure work has yet to be begun. Unemployment among the evictees is 21%, as opposed to the 5% unemployment rate that existed when the Katif communities were thriving.
What Do The Katif Communities Look Like Now?
Four years after the destruction of the 21 Katif Jewish communities, several Israeli journalists hired Palestinian cameramen to take pictures of the destroyed Jewish communities, to see what Palestinians had done there since taking over the area.
What Israelis want to know is whether overcrowded UNRWA refugee camps had moved into the abandoned Jewish communities of Katif.
Polls show that Israeli and international public opinion supported the eviction of the Jewish communities from Katif in order to enable a better life for thousands of Palestinian families who have been confined to teeming tenements of UNRWA refugee camps since 1948.
However, pictures taken by a Palestinian photographer show that contrary to what Israelis believed would happen, Palestinians have not built a single new house in the
any Katif community, four years after the destruction of these Jewish communities, where public buildings were allowed to remain..
The photographs indicate that the Palestinians completely destroyed anything that was left standing following the evacuation process, including synagogues and buildings that remained standing.
More than 100 photographs were taken in the framework of the project.
"What is sad is that it's very hard to identify the buildings that are documented in the photographs," said one Israeli journalist who had covered Katif for the international media.
Why have Palestinians from overcrowded UNRWA camps not moved into the abandoned Katif communities?
An UNRWA camp committee spokesman explained that, “These were not our homes - we want to move back to the homes that we left after we were expelled in 1948 - from places like Beer Sheva and Ashkelon”
Obama To Achieve Normalization Gestures From Arab World?
After several days of consultations with Israeli government officials, US Presidential Middle East envoy George Mitchell left his Israeli interlocutors with an assurance that President Obama would be able to extract some normalization gestures towards Israel from the Arab world within a month, following White House confirmation that Preisdent Obama had indeed sent letters leaders of Morrocco, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, asking them for confidence-building measures toward Israel.
However, Saudi Arabia, the kingpin of the Arab League of Nations which has been in a formal, full scale war with Israel since 1948, immediately responded with a full rejection of any gesture of normalization with Israel, so long as Israel does not relinquishsovereignty over Jerusalem, allow recognition of the right of return of Palestinian refugees from 1948, and stop the development of any Jewish community that lies in areas acquired by Israel in 1967.
View this story in the Philadelphia Bulletin
View this story at Israel Behind the News