NITZAN, Israel — Shlomi Tabach, a resident of Gush Katif for 16 years, was trying to pry the bronze mezuzah off his front doorpost with pliers, but it wouldn’t budge.
His mother-in-law quipped: “Look at that: The mezuzah doesn’t want to leave. It wants to stay in Gush Katif.”
With one more yank, the mezuzah finally came off.
The family left the settlement of Gadid last week, ahead of the Israeli withdrawal. They rose at dawn to pack final boxes with their toddler son’s toys, taking down lace curtains and lighting fixtures. Their sand-swept front yard was crammed with furniture, plastic crates and boxes as they waited for the moving van.
Tabach said he didn’t understand settlers who refused to acknowledge that the end of their time in Gaza was fast approaching.
“I think it’s a major mistake, because it’s a fact and we need to face up to it,” he said. “I have a wife and son, and the most important thing is to be prepared.”
He charged that the settlers’ leadership “deluded” them into believing that the withdrawal wouldn’t take place.
By Sunday, the Tabachs had moved into a mobile home in Nitzan, a temporary housing project off the highway leading from Gaza north to Tel Aviv.
With its rows of mobile homes planted on a huge plot, Nitzan looks a bit like one of the ma’abarot , the transit camps erected in the early days of the Israeli state to absorb the massive flow of new immigrants. Unlike the ma’abarot , however, these mobile homes have parking spaces, air conditioning and a bit of space. Reflecting those amenities, they’re not called caravans, the Israeli term for mobile homes, but caravillas.
The Tabachs’ new home has a a spacious kitchen with a small adjacent living room. A hallway leads to four comfortable bedrooms and two bathrooms. The windows, however, look directly into the rooms of the family next door.
On Sunday, just before the formal evacuation of Gaza began, Nitzan looked nearly deserted. Most of the expected evacuees hadn’t arrived yet, staying behind in Gush Katif for the final showdown with soldiers coming to evict them. The Tabachs were among the few families who already had settled in.
“On the face of it, everything is all right,” Tabach said, “but our entire life is under a question mark.”