A Painful Departure

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Sunday was Tisha B'Av, a day of fasting when Jews remember the destruction of the First and Second Temples in Jerusalem. It was also the last day before the Gush Katif settlement bloc in the Gaza Strip would be sealed off, and all residents would be expected to leave.

Days earlier, the Angel family was packing up 20 years of their lives and would send a trailer filled with their possessions to their new rented apartment, The family plans to stay in the empty house until the army comes to evacuate them. "It's a rotten government for doing such a thing," he says.

Angel, a driver for the regional Gush Katif bus company, says, "We feel that we are being thrown to the dogs. Why should we leave? Why should we be forced to give up this paradise? I am concerned for the next generation of Israelis, because we are giving up land all the time. It's continuous."

His lawyer is now negotiating with the government's special office set up to handle compensation for the settlers. The compensation is figured by complicated formulas and turns out to be quite negotiable, depending on how forcefully the lawyer presses the government. Many settlers waited to negotiate, figuring the government would be under pressure to secure deals before the final evacuation begins, though there's no evidence that the latest deals are better. "With broken hearts," the Angels will move into rental accommodation until their house in the new community of Nitzan, north of Ashkelon, will be ready. This could take two years. "I don't want to go to the caravillas set up by the government (for temporary accommodation), so I'm renting an apartment."

Angel, who has seven children, notes a marked deterioration in relations with the police and army since June, when they began closing Gush Katif with roadblocks to prevent potential infiltration by protesters. "It's very frustrating," he says, though he won't comment on the possibility of violence during the withdrawal.