There is something inconceivable about a village that is about to disappear. The grass at the entrance, the children in the playgrounds, the palm trees, the pines, the synagogue. The homes awaiting their death.
At midnight on Sunday, Gush Katif was sealed. Netzer Hazani found itself beyond the law. An hour later, the women gathered in prayer. They prayed and wept bitter tears.
Many of the men found it hard to fall asleep. A few woke up with nightmares. Some of the founders walked aimlessly through the paths of the settlement until three in the morning, unable to sleep, unable to be comforted. Some of the youngsters, who had served in special forces in the army, passed swiftly by them, disappearing in the dark, preparing a surprise for the Israel Defense Forces.
By 7:30 yesterday morning, there were already dozens gathered next to the gate, waiting for the official representatives. One of the illegal infiltrators, a doctor from Kiryat Arba, said this rupture would never be healed. This is worse than bloodshed, he averred. The eviction expressed a war of the Israelis against the Jews, he said. The Israelis have power now, he said, that's why they are raping us. But after that, don't expect us to return to live together, he said. We shall not shoot, we shall harm no one but we shall always remember how you raped us. We shall remember who you really are.
Rahel Yefet, 55, stood opposite the gate, looking aristocratic. She had not slept a wink. Neither had her husband, Benny. We are elderly people, she said. We built this place with our own hands. It will be a miracle if we get out of here alive. Suddenly she turned to me, crying: "We really don't deserve this. We took nothing from anyone. We're not criminals. The government sent us here. Suddenly they are sending the army to take us away. After 30 years. After raising six children here. The sandstorms in the beginning. The rocket attacks. Our son who was murdered. This is not real."
The officials arrived at 11. Two buses carrying them sat outside, and inside a three-line barrier has been formed. A prayer dais, two old Japanese cars and a crane block the road. A chorus of hundreds singing piously. That is why when the two representatives of the settlement went to discuss the issue with the two commanders, they had the advantage. Only with force could the gate have been taken. The determined settlement could not have been breached without a great show of strength.
It took less than one hour for the buses to turn around. The officer from the Border Police and the officer from the air force were gone. The gate was reopened, hundreds danced in thanks to God with the Torah scroll. Netzer Hazani had achieved a moment of victory and of pride. Netzer Hazani had earned yet one more day of life.
But the IDF's campaign of distributing evacuation orders had not really failed. The soldiers did not physically enter the settlement but they made it clear they were there. That they would be sure to come. That is why, when Rahel Yefet returned to her home, she realized that the die had been cast. That it was actually happening. That her country would not hesitate to send her army into her home.
After many months when she had refused to do so, she started to pack. She packed not merely the belongings of her murdered son but also her own clothes and her husband's clothes and their books. She still feels as if it is surreal. It is still morbid and crazy. And she will not leave of her own free will. She will wait until the end, until the soldiers come. But yesterday she suddenly understood that, just as her son is no longer with her, so her home will not be hers. There will be no Netzer Hazani.
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