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Evacuating Settlements in Gaza
Saturday, August 23, 2005

Gaza City: The last Jewish settler has left Gaza yesterday on Monday, August 22nd. It was Nitzarim settlement which became the last to evacuate from the entire Gaza Strip. By 6: 45 PM, it was reported that the last settler left Nitzarim to mark a historical day for Gaza痴 modern history. That meant an end of a violent occupation and settlement movement of Gaza Strip which last for thirty eight years.

Residents of Gaza city saw few apache helicopters flying above the coastal area of the city yesterday on Tuesday. This time it was not for sending down missiles but to oversee the evacuation process of the Nitzarim settlement located about five KM south of the city.

Now, the process of demolishing settlement houses is going to start soon which and to last for two and a half weeks as reported in local Palestinian media. Military evacuation is supposed to follow towards the end of September. But, the media mentioned that the military evacuation could actually start much sooner than expected.

The whole evacuation process has proven much easier and smoother than thought before. From the Palestinian side, the last couple of weeks, Palestinian militant factions have remained calm. In addition, the internal situation of calm inside Gaza has prevailed as the public and local leaders waited and watched the evacuation of settlements. No faction wants to appear as a hurdle in the process of withdrawal. Public sentiment is strongly in favor of seeing the withdrawal to continue and to insure a complete withdrawal from the whole settlements. No faction, no matter how militant it is, wants to go against such public mood.

On the Israeli side, a police spokesman told media sources that the evacuation process has been much easier than even the training which police units received in the past months.

On the ground, inside the Gaza strip, local Gazans are still facing extreme difficulties in crossing the biggest check point , Abu Houly , which divides Gaza into two parts ( north and south). These days, commuters are only allowed to cross Abu houly check point at night where it is supposed to open from ten before midnight until five in the morning. The road is closed completely during the day time for any Palestinian commuters. Many local people are suffering from this practice; however, knowing that settlements are being evacuated, this has encouraged people to put up with the situation for the moment till the main road re-opens again.

President Abu Mazen, Abbas, has declared that the real struggle has already begun. 展e are now facing the big struggle to rebuild the homeland, to change people痴 lives and to strive for a better life for the people・ said the president of the Palestinian Authority.

Many Palestinian officials are very concern about some serious and sticking issues which may remain after the end of evacuation process from inside the Gaza Strip. Main concerns are mainly to do with border crossings and freedom of enter and re-entry into the Gaza Strip especially at the border with Egypt. Palestinians politicians and also the public in general do not want to see Israeli presence at the border which controls the freedom of movement of people and goods. It has been reported recently that Palestinians would like to see a third party to be involved at controlling border with Egypt. EU is most likely so far to take part in controlling Rafah border along with Egyptians and Palestinians. So far, no confirmation has been mentioned yet on that.

Also, the issue of the safe passage connecting Gaza and West bank is of crucial importance to Palestinians. Negotiations are still going on between Palestinians and Israeli in an effort to bring about some kind of arrangement for people to cross from Gaza to West Bank and vise versa.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, about six thousands Israeli soldiers and policemen have already begun moving to four West Bank settlements to force radical settlers to evacuate. It is expected that by the end of the day, Tuesday, the four settlements will be evacuated completely.

The west bank has about one hundred settlement spreading throughout the whole area which called the West Bank.

In today痴 Al Quds Newspaper, biggest in Palestine, one Palestinian writer from Nablus City in West Bank, Lutfi Zaghlul, wrote on the current Israeli withdrawal, 哲o matter what is the motive behind the withdrawal which Israeli declares. However, the real motive from a Palestinian view is simply represented in the struggles and the huge sacrifices and the determination to retain the rights no matter how long it takes. And that liberating any piece of land is without any doubt bringing back part of those rights. The rest will be gained despite the big challenges. The road is not covered with roses and flowers.・

Reported by B. Samed

August, 23rd., 2005


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