Reflections On Israeli Life: Gaza Settlements & Cherry Tomatoes

As the week of ‘sitting Shiva’ following the death of Ariel Sharon has ended, there is one more thing that I have to add to his legacy, and that is the tragedy of the disengagement—initiated by Sharon---from the Gush Katif settlements in August of 2006.
I’ll begin with a bit of history! Jewish people had actually been living in Gaza for over 1600 years until the historic Jewish community was forced to move by the British at the time of the deadly Arab riots of 1929. The village of Kfar Darom was later there on land that was purchased, before the village was evacuated following an Egyptian siege in the War of Independence in 1948.
The nation of Israel decided to settle the area again, and building began in earnest in 1968. By the time of the disengagement in 2005, 8600 people were living there in 17 settlements—all of which were situated on the sand dunes (that separate the coastal plane from the sea along the southeastern Mediterranean).
It’s hard to imagine that anything can grow on sand dunes! But from that unlikely setting, beautiful communities were developed, with parks and playgrounds and schools and synagogues, community centres, office buildings and libraries. But possibly most astonishing of all was the fact that the major income from Gush Katif consisted of agricultural products

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