Gaza settlements first appears in the Tanach as a Philistine city, the site of Samson’s dramatic death. Jews finally conquered it in the Hasmonean era, and continued to live there. Notable residents include Dunash Ibn Labrat, and Nathan of Gaza, advisor to false messiah Shabtai Zvi. Gaza is within the boundaries of Shevet Yehuda in Biblical Israel .The earliest settlement of the area is by Avraham and Yitzhak, both of whom lived in the Gerar area of Gaza. In the fourth century Gaza settlements was the primary Jewish port of Israel for international trade and commerce.Great medieval rabbis such as Rabbi Yisrael Najara, author of Kah Ribon Olam, the popular Shabbat song, and renowned Mekubal Rabbi Avraham Azoulai, were rabbanim in Gaza Jewish communities.The periodic removal of Jews from Gaza goes back at least to the Romans in 61 CE, followed much later by the Crusaders, Napoleon, the Ottoman Turks, the British and the contemporary Egyptians.
With the 1967 Six Day War, Israeli forces reentered Gaza and captured it. During the war, Israel had no idea what it would do with the territory. Eshkol called it “a bone stuck in our throats.”1The initial settlements were established by the Labor government in the early 1970s. The first was Kfar Darom, which was originally established in 1946, and reformed in 1970. In 1981, as part of a peace treaty with Egypt, the last gaza settlements of the Sinai were destroyed, and some Jews moved to the Gaza area. Israeli settlers reside in 18 percent of the 363 square kilometer area. They are sparsely settled in the area as compared to the density of the Palestinian regions in the Gaza Strip.
There are twenty-one in gaza settlements . The most populated Gush Katif area contains some thirty synagogues plus Yeshivat Torat Hachim with 200 students, the Hesder Yeshiva with 150 students, the Mechina in Atzmona with 200 students, Yeshivot in Netzarim and Kfar Darom, 6 Kollelim, a Medrasha for girls in Neve Dekalim and more. All of the settlements have their own schools, seminaries, stores, and doctors.The largest group of gaza settlements is the Katif bloc, located along the southern Gaza coastline. These gaza settlements block access to the coast from the major Palestinian cities of Khan Yunis and Rafah and cement Israeli control on the Egypt-Gaza border. Another group of settlements (comprising Elei Sinai, Dugit, and Nisanit) are located along Gaza’s northern border with Israel, expanding the Israeli presence from the city of Ashkelon (inside Israel) to the edges of Gaza City (the Erez Industrial zone is part of this bloc). Netzarim, Kfar Darom, and Morag are strategically located in the heart of the Gaza Strip (along a north-south axis), creating a framework for Israeli control of the area and its main transportation route, and facilitating Israel’s ability to divide the Gaza Strip into separate areas and isolate each area’s inhabitants. In addition, the gaza settlements control prime agricultural land, some of the area’s main aquifers, and approximately one-third of the total Gaza coastline.
The Gaza settlements range from religious communities (Atzmona, Bedolah, Gadid, Ganei Tal, Gan Or, Katif, Kfar Darom, Morag, Netzarim, Netzer Hazani, and Neve Dekalim) to non-religious communities (Dugit, Elei Sinai, Kfar Yam), to mixed communities (Nisanit, Pe’at Sade, and Rafiah Yam). Their economies are generally based on agriculture (with many classified as “moshavim” or cooperative agricultural villages), with some local industry (Neve Dekalim and Katif) and tourist facilities (Dugit, Katif bloc). One gaza settlement, Gadid, has a large French population and maintains an absorption center for new immigrants from France. The isolated location of the Gush Katif bloc attracts some of the most ideologically-motivated members of the Gaza settlement community. Residents of the northern bloc (Elei Sinai, Nisanit, and Dugit) are physically separated from the rest of the Gaza settlers (to reach the other gaza settlements they must travel into Israel, then re-enter Gaza, through another entrance point) and their social and economic lives are more closely linked to Israel than other settlers, with many of the residents working and studying inside Israel.
Jews and Muslims coexisted for more than a decade but tension rose, and in 1987, a Jewish shopper in a Gazan market was stabbed to death. The next day an Israeli truck accidentally killed four Arabs, sparking the first riots of what would become the first intifada. A brief period of calm followed the Oslo agreements as Israel agreed to withdraw from parts of the Gaza Strip. Ultimately, the Palestinian Authority assumed control over about 80 percent of the area, but an escalation of violence, especially after September 2000, led Israel to impose stricter measures on Palestinians in the area, and to engage in frequent military operations to prevent terrorist attacks against soldiers and Jews living in the Gaza as well as infiltrations to attack targets inside Israel.
On August 17, 2005, Israel began to evacuate all the Jews from Gaza. It was expected to take several weeks, but took less than one. Israel and the Palestinians agreed the buildings would be razed and the army began that process after the residents left.
A total of 1,700 families were uprooted at a cost of nearly $900 million. This includes 166 Israeli farmers who produce $120 million in flowers and produce. Approximately 15 percent of Israel’s agricultural exports originate in Gaza, including 60 percent of its cherry tomato and herb exports. Israel will also lose 70 percent of all its organic produce, which also is grown in Gaza.
The Israeli Supreme Court was to decide on the fate of the 38 synagogues, but most, if not all, will be dismantled. In addition, 48 bodies, including some victims of terror attacks, are being relocated from the cemetery outside Neve Dekalim to Israel. A total of 42 daycare centers, 36 kindergartens, seven elementary schools, and three high schools will be closed. It will cost approximately $500 million to relocate military bases outside Gaza and build new crossing facilities. When the disengagement process is complete, no Jews will be present in the Gaza Strip.