Gaza Expects Flood of Tourists, Some of Whom Will Stay

By Mitchell Ginsburg

Published April 22, 2005, issue of April 22, 2005.
  • Print
  • Share Share

JERUSALEM — The beachfront Jewish settlements of southern Gaza, long a popular Passover getaway destination among religious Israelis, are expecting a bumper tourism season this week. Tens of thousands of visitors are expected to throng the region’s guest houses and campsites during the weeklong vacation. But not all of them are planning on going home afterward.

The Jewish settlements of the so-called Katif Bloc — Gush Katif in Hebrew — are slated for evacuation this summer as part of Prime Minister Sharon’s Gaza-West Bank disengagement plan. Many visitors heading down next week were hoping for one last farewell before the Jewish settlements are dismantled.

Others, however, planned to move in and stay before the army seals the area off from the rest of Israel in advance of the evacuation. Their aim is to flood the area with protesters, with the aim of making the evacuation impossible.

Key to their plans is an April 3 decision by Sharon to allow one last “normal” Passover in Gush Katif, over the objections of his top generals, who had recommended that the area be sealed off before Passover.

Instead, the army is set to bar the entry of non-residents sometime between the close of the Passover holiday and Independence Day, on May 12.

Last year, some 1,000 to 2,000 Israelis visited Gush Katif during the Passover holiday, said the spokesman for the Katif Region Development Fund, Dror Vanunu.

This year, “at least” 100,000 persons are expected to gather on the shores of Gush Katif during the weeklong holiday, according to the Yesha Settlers Council, the main organization representing Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza.

The vast majority of the visitors will come down for an April 27 seaside march from Neveh Dekalim to the artificial Katif Lake, where bands will play and politicians will speak. The area’s only formal accommodation, Midreshet Ha-Darom, is booked solid through May.

Vanunu, who called Sharon an “enemy of Yesha” in his conversation with the Forward, facetiously credits the prime minister for the record tourism. “We’re thinking about asking Sharon to join the development team of Gush Katif,” Vanunu told the Forward. “He’s doing excellent work for the area.”

Some visitors are approaching the Passover vacation as their final farewell to the beachside enclave. Oshrat Levy, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Beit El, lived in Gush Katif from age 6 until she got married. She decided to go down to the area for the holiday in order to see her parents, and visit her brother’s grave, perhaps for the last time. “I’m very realistic about this,” she says. “If Sharon’s decided that this is it, he’s capable of anything.”

Others plan to come to Gush Katif on Passover and remain in the area in an attempt to prevent the disengagement. Some, like Anita Finkelstein, a mother of three from the West Bank settlement of Tekoa, will be moving in legally. She has secured a mobile home in Kfar Yam and formally changed her address to that locale. Her family will remain in Tekoa until the end of the school year, and then they’ll join her in the small beachside enclave next to Neveh Dekalim. “I can’t just sit at home and watch this horrible order take shape,” she told the Forward.

Her friend Nadia Matar, the founder of the pro-settler activist organization Women in Green, will join her on Passover and thereafter. Matar says she has prepared her children for prison. “I tell them they’ll be arrested and that it’s an honor,” she said.

Matar, too, will be there legally. But many are expected to come down to the area for Passover and then stay on illegally, according to both security officials and settler activists. The transplants will represent, they hope, a critical mass large enough to impede the implementation of the disengagement plan.

The Yesha council and the Gush Katif council have ordered 1,200 tents, 1,000 chemical toilets and thousands of light bulb sockets, Neveh Dekalim secretariat chairman Lior Kalfa told the daily Ha’aretz this week.

Dalia Itzhaki, a resident of the Kfar Yam settlement, told the Forward she is hoping to see 10,000 Passover visitors remain in the area. “We’ll only win this war with a lot of people on the ground,” she said.






Find us on Facebook!
  • Former Israeli National Security Advisor Yaakov Amidror: “A cease-fire will mean that anytime Hamas wants to fight it can. Occupation of Gaza will bring longer-term quiet, but the price will be very high.” What do you think?
  • Should couples sign a pre-pregnancy contract, outlining how caring for the infant will be equally divided between the two parties involved? Just think of it as a ketubah for expectant parents:
  • Many #Israelis can't make it to bomb shelters in time. One of them is Amos Oz.
  • According to Israeli professor Mordechai Kedar, “the only thing that can deter terrorists, like those who kidnapped the children and killed them, is the knowledge that their sister or their mother will be raped."
  • Why does ultra-Orthodox group Agudath Israel of America receive its largest donation from the majority owners of Walmart? Find out here: http://jd.fo/q4XfI
  • Woody Allen on the situation in #Gaza: It's “a terrible, tragic thing. Innocent lives are lost left and right, and it’s a horrible situation that eventually has to right itself.”
  • "Mark your calendars: It was on Sunday, July 20, that the momentum turned against Israel." J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis on Israel's ground operation in Gaza:
  • What do you think?
  • "To everyone who is reading this article and saying, “Yes, but… Hamas,” I would ask you to just stop with the “buts.” Take a single moment and allow yourself to feel this tremendous loss. Lay down your arms and grieve for the children of Gaza."
  • Professor Dan Markel, 41 years old, was found shot and killed in his Tallahassee home on Friday. Jay Michaelson can't explain the death, just grieve for it.
  • Employees complained that the food they received to end the daily fast during the holy month of Ramadan was not enough (no non-kosher food is allowed in the plant). The next day, they were dismissed.
  • Why are peace activists getting beat up in Tel Aviv? http://jd.fo/s4YsG
  • Backstreet's...not back.
  • Before there was 'Homeland,' there was 'Prisoners of War.' And before there was Claire Danes, there was Adi Ezroni. Share this with 'Homeland' fans!
  • BREAKING: Was an Israeli soldier just kidnapped in Gaza? Hamas' military wing says yes.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.