In the summer of 2005, the government of Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. The roughly 8,000 residents of the 21 Jewish settlements within the Gaza Strip were forced to leave their homes and their communities, which – for decades – they had actually been encouraged and incentivized to inhabit.
The move brought the country to the brink of a civil war. This was especially palpable in the tense relations between the residents of Gush Katif (as the main block of Gaza settlements was known) and their neighbors from the other side of the fence — the largely left-leaning residents of the kibbutzim of Otef Azza, all the same kibbutzim that — eighteen years later — suffered most in the Hamas attack of October 7th.
Now, many of the former residents of the Gaza settlements who never stopped dreaming of returning to the sand dunes of the Strip feel at least partially vindicated. Had their communities not been dismantled back in 2005, they claim, the army would have still been in Gaza, and none of this calamity would have occurred. One such voice is that of 63-year-old Datya Itzhaki, who used to live in the Gush Katif settlement of Kfar Yam.