Thursday, September 15, 2005

A Positive Sign

When the Jews in Gaza were thrown out by their fellow Jews I was beside myself. I thought the worst and I must confess, I'm not far away from there still.

But there are positive things emerging from that time. And I think it's important to highlight those things.

IDF Officers Making Contact With the Residents They Expelled


By Hillel Fendel




Several incidents have been recorded in which IDF soldiers who took part in the Gush Katif/Shomron expulsion have called their "victims" to express sadness, regret, or just a desire to talk.
Yochai Greenglick of Shilo relates the following story:
"On the day of the expulsion from N'vei Dekalim, I was in the home of Dr. Sodi Namir,

where I had spent the previous ten days. During the actual expulsion, I was injured when the soldiers burst open a glass door onto me. After we were evicted from the house, Dr. Namir stitched me up in the clinic.

"Before the stitching, however, I was the last one to remain in the house, with about 40 army officers there, and I began to speak with them. I told them about the face-to-face campaign that had begun the year before, in which we [religious, anti-disengagement people] went from house to house to talk with Israelis with whom we generally have little contact. I told them that after this expulsion is over, I know that we will continue to try to do this work, and that I hoped that they too would be willing to do their part and open their doors. I gave them my phone number, and invited them to call me.

"They wrote down my number - and this Monday [the day of the official end of
Israel's presence in Gaza, and nearly four weeks after the expulsion - ed.], one of them in fact called and said he would like to meet with me. He emphasized that he was not speaking only for himself, but in the name of many other army officers as well. 'Maybe it's too early for you,' the officer told me, 'but when you're ready to talk, then we would like to as well.' We will probably meet within a few days...

"It's not that I am forgiving, or even giving legitimacy to what he did, but it's rather an understanding that our nation will continue to live together and we are likely to face further such problems."

"What do you think they want? Why do you feel they called you?" this reporter asked Yochai. He responded, "I think it's very hard for them; it sort of just ended very abruptly, with no closure. I think they feel obligated to fix something..."

For others, the wounds are still too raw for them to speak to the soldiers who performed the actual throwing them out of their homes. Tzion Ohayon, banished from his family home in N'vei Dekalim, received a phone call this week from two soldiers who took part in his expulsion. One of them said he is sorry for what happened, and asked how he could help. Ohayon, still homeless in
Jerusalem, said he is not willing to forgive. To the second one who called, he said, "I am not willing to talk with someone wearing an army uniform."

Ohayon's father-in-law Eliyahu El-Natan, from the now-non-existent Moshav Gadid, received a call from the commander who threw him out of his house, wishing to express regret for his actions. "The army is broken from what happened," Ohayon said. "I think they're trying to help themselves more than they're trying to help us."

Yoni and Noa Katzover received a phone call from a Border Guard officer who evicted them from their house in Chomesh. "He asked how we are doing," Yoni said, "and told us of the hardships he's undergoing. He told us of his 10-year-old nephew who refuses to talk with him, and how he broke down crying in the middle of the Kiddush [pre-Sabbath-meal blessing]. He also told us about some of his soldiers who have requested emotional counseling."

A female officer wrote a letter of apology to the Goldshmidt family, which she helped throw out of its home in Ganei Tal. In a subsequent phone call, she said that if not for the threats and heavy pressures that the IDF exerted upon the soldiers, she would not have agreed to take part in the disengagement.

Her letter states, "...For a long time now, ever since that Tuesday in Ganei Tal, I have been walking around with a heavy burden of depression. Something like all the soldiers who took part in the evacuation of Gush Katif and northern Shomron. I suffered a deep emotional wound, and I regret every moment... I am sorry about the whole evacuation process, and I am sorry that I had to stand there opposite you and hold back my tears, even though I felt totally that I am one of you. I am sorry for the misery that was caused to you and to all the other families in your wonderful community...

"I felt at that moment [in your house] hatred and anger to the governmental elements that sent us on this difficult mission, that made us look like robots towards you, towards great people like you..."

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