Sunday, August 14, 2005

Tisha B'Av
The Destruction of a Temple?
Israel Begins Historic Gaza Withdrawal

From Associated Press:

KISSUFIM CROSSING, Israel - Israel lowered a road barrier sealing the Gaza Strip to Israeli civilians at midnight Sunday — signaling the start of a historic withdrawal that will end its 38-year occupation, redraw borders and reshape prospects for Mideast peace.

But several hundred settlers vowed stay in their homes and ignore orders to leave Gaza within 48 hours. They were reinforced by up to 5,000 hard-line activists from outside Gaza who planned to block forceful evictions.

Trouble surfaced shortly after the ceremony when hundreds of protesters from the largest settlement, Neve Dekalim, blocked the main road, stopping army vehicles and scuffling with soldiers.

At the border, soldiers lowered a red road barrier at the Kissufim Crossing between Israel and Gaza, with a sign on the barrier reading: "Stop, entry into the Gaza Strip and presence there is prohibited by law."

With about 200 people looking on, the barrier was raised and lowered several times, apparently because of technical problems. Soldiers secured it with a wire to keep it shut.

Two large Israeli flags waved beside the barrier. As it went down, a traffic light changed from green to red and three vans carrying settlers and their belongings drove out of Gaza, never to return.

"The Gaza Strip has been closed today based on the decision of the Israeli government and today another phase begins," said Brig. Gen. Guy Tsur, a senior commander.

At a synagogue in Neve Dekalim, Gaza's largest settlement, seven people sat in the sanctuary and quietly prayed. Itai Ben Simchon, 17, came to the synagogue to collect his father's prayer shawl and said his family decided to leave on their own so as not to lose out on compensation money. "My mother and father are crying a lot," he said.

Pinchas Ariel, (Pastorius note: am I nuts to note that the word Pinchas means "Fuck you" in Spanish. Odd, huh?) a farmer from the Ganei Tal settlement, said he also was leaving on his own because he couldn't face clashing with Israeli soldiers. "I was in the army. I have two sons who were paratroopers, and I'm not going to fight my sons," he said.

Earlier Sunday, hundreds of settlers sang traditional prayers of redemption as part of a ceremony at the Gush Katif cemetery to commemorate the Tisha B'Av holy day marking the destruction of the Jewish Temples.

The cemetery's 49 graves are to be moved to Israel — one of the most emotionally charged issues in the pullout.

Vice Premier Shimon Peres gave a pep talk to troops near the Gaza border.

"The settlements must be evacuated. They cannot stay here," he told reporters. "I understand that there are feelings. I have sympathy (for the settlers), but they cannot replace a national choice."

The withdrawal, marking the first time Israel gives up settled land claimed by the Palestinians for their future state, comes after months of political wrangling and mass protests. On Sunday, Israeli troops took up positions to launch the evacuation and Palestinian security forces fanned out to prevent militant attacks.

Many hope the pullout from the territory Israel captured in 1967 will be the start of a true partition of historic Palestine between Arab and Jew.

Others fear it is a ploy by Sharon to get rid of areas he doesn't consider crucial to Israel while consolidating control of parts of the West Bank, where the vast majority of the 240,000 Jewish settlers live.

Let me just say one thing. This AP article notes this is "the first time Israel gives up settled land claimed by the Palestinians for their future state." As soon as the evacuation is completed, the Palestinians have a state. It is no longer a future state, but an existent state.

It is up to them what they do with it.

If they choose to attack Israel using the terrorists from Fatah or Hamas (the two governing political parties in the new state of Palestine) then they are one state declaring war upon another.

At that point, Israel will be within their rights to destroy every Palestinian who takes up an arm against them.