Jewish Journal, August 7, 2015
A drive through the Israeli city of Nitzan tells the story of the slow, painful rehabilitation of the communities of Gush Katif, the former settlement bloc known as the “harvest belt” of Gaza before Israel’s withdrawal 10 years ago. Located between Ashdod and Ashkelon, about 45 miles north of Gaza City, Nitzan has been the main absorption site of the evacuees torn from their homes in the summer of 2005 as part of the “disengagement” from Gaza, which the evacuees continue to refer to as the “expulsion.”
Today, the temporary housing site to which they were moved looks like a slum. Makeshift synagogues are only now closing, and the remaining dank shops clearly rely on the community for charitable business. Weeds grow on the plots of “caravillas,” the government euphemism for the pre-fab housing structures that have been relocated elsewhere as residents moved out. Human-size sewer pipes decorated with graffiti — the makeshift community bomb shelters — adorn the parking courtyards of the worn-out structures.
About a half-mile away, a garden-lined road has turned around the unseemly vision of the weeds and scrap metal. An impressive school building — a new girls school — recalls the well-kept, pretty community buildings that were once in Gush Katif, and it leads the way to the new site of Neve Dekalim, the most urban of the 21 settlements of Gush Katif that were destroyed. The residents have expanded the already existing community of Nitzan, and the desert homes say: “We’ve finally rebuilt … sort of.”