Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

As Gaza Cease-Fire Holds, Ousted Settlers Call for Israel to Hit Harder

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

As Gaza Cease-Fire Holds, Ousted Settlers Call for Israel to Hit Harder

Article excerpt

Neta Baranetz remembers an idyllic childhood in the Netzer Hazani settlement near the Gaza beach, where a tranquil, family-oriented atmosphere resembled more of a Jewish-American suburb than a volatile Palestinian enclave.

Today, she lives in a dilapidated trailer home in Nitzan, the largest community of former Gaza settlers only 20 minutes from the Gaza border. When Ms. Baranetz was a teenager, the Second Intifada erupted in 2000, and the settlers proudly carried out "our new mission - to absorb all the rockets so that the rest of the Israel wouldn't be exposed."

On the nine-year anniversary of Israel's unilateral withdrawal of troops and more than 8,000 Jewish settlers from Gaza, Baranetz says that returning land to the Palestinians was "a knife in the back and the heart." As well as forcibly uprooting Jews, she and other settlers argue that it was a strategic blunder that shattered any hope for peace.

In its latest month-long war with Israel, Hamas has launched thousands of rockets toward Israeli cities including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. A three-day cease-fire expired Friday, and fighting resumed over the weekend. A new cease-fire took effect today, as Egyptian-backed peace talks continue in Cairo.

Residents here recall the Gush Katif bloc - the string of settlements between the Palestinian city of Khan Younis and the Mediterranean - as "Paradise," and view the 2005 pullout as girush, or expulsion, in reference to the biblical story of Adam and Eve's expulsion.

Today, hundreds of evacuee families are still living in government-issued pre-fab housing units, outfitted with improvised bomb shelters. Their yards are dotted with plastic playgrounds and old road signs that read, "Rafah - Sea."

Fair-weather friendsA former settler of Nisanit, Daniella Shmuel was disappointed to hear of the latest cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. …

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