Photo Credit: Jonny Yechiel Stein
Return to Gaza Conference. Jan. 28, 2024

The central lobby of the International Convention Center in Jerusalem on Thursday evening featured booths with signs inviting the thousands of participants of the “Returning to the Gaza Strip” conference to register to join settlement gar’inim (nuclei).

There was a Haredi gar’in planning to settle near Rafah, alongside a planned green city in the Strip, which declared: “You have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to participate in the rebuilding of the Hebrew city of Gaza, as a technological, green city, open to all and unifying the parts of Israeli society.”

A sign to build a Chareidi community in Gaza.

According to the organizers, dozens of families have already registered for each of the six nuclei that were soliciting members. A huge map of the Gaza Strip hung on the wall, with the names of Gush Katif settlements whose residents were expelled by the Sharon government to save the PM from criminal charges of the State Prosecution. Between 8 and 10 thousand Jews lost everything so the corrupt ex-general got to stay out of jail. Shortly thereafter Sharon had a stroke and became a vegetable, much like the hydroponic lettuce that was abandoned in the Gush Katif hot houses.

The head of the Samaria Regional Council, Yossi Dagan, who was expelled by Sharon and his DM Shaul Mofaz from his home in northern Samaria, spoke to the crowd that included Bezalel Smotrich and Orit Struck (Religious Zionism), Itamar Ben Gvir, Amichai Eliyahu and Yitzchak Wasserlauf (Otzma Yehudit), Haim Katz, Amichai Chikli, and Shlomo Karai (Likud) and many others, calling: “Say after me: ‘The Oslo Agreement is dead, Am Israel lives.'” The huge crowd repeated the ecstatic chant three times, and it seemed for a moment that this united cry had the power to become a reality.

Ministers and MK’s dance at the Returning to the Gaza Strip conference in Jerusalem, January 28, 2024.

As Finance Minister Smotrich put it, “There is something in the natural health that exists here, in the strength, joy, and devotion to the Land of Israel that has the potential to deliver enormous strength.”

When Minister Ben Gvir took the stage, he was greeted by the crowd like a rock star.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir treated like a rock star at the Returning to the Gaza Strip conference in Jerusalem, January 28, 2024. / Chaim Goldberg/Flash90

“I remember myself back then, standing and saying that deportation would encourage terrorism, prostrating myself on the road in demonstrations, shouting that the missiles will reach Sderot and Ashkelon and being slapped with an administrative removal order to keep me away from the area and shut my mouth,” he recalled.

“What didn’t they didn’t say about us then?” he continued, “That we don’t understand security, that I wasn’t Chief of Staff, that if so many former members of the security establishment say that disengagement is a good thing, then it is a good thing.”

“It was all said there, 19 years ago, when the conceptzia dominated. I wasn’t the only one standing there. We all stood with you and your parents and yelled and warned from every stage.”

Ben Gvir continued: “I’ve been in the cabinet for a whole year, and when I said that there should be targeted countermeasures in Gaza, they again said that I don’t understand security. When I said that workers from Gaza should not be allowed in, they again said that I was not Chief of Staff, and when I said that Hamas was not deterred, all kinds of security experts claimed that if they say that everything is fine, then everything is fine.

“And again, the same mistake of the conceptzia that this time cost us not only in the deportation of thousands of people but in a massacre, murder, rape, looting – a war.

“Part of the fixing of the mistake, the recognition of the sin of the conceptzia that led to the expulsion and to October 7, is to return home!”

Ben Gvir concluded: “We must return home and control the territory, and also offer a moral and logical solution to the humanitarian problem: encourage immigration and pass the death penalty for terrorists.”

Daniela Weiss, who was one of the organizers of the conference, made no bones about her solution to the Gaza threat: “There are two options on the table, either Gaza will be Jewish and flourish or it will return and be Arab and murderous,” she told the conference. “Millions of war refugees move from country to country all over the world, and only these monsters must be connected to their land? Only they must stay on the land that they turned into a hell? October 7 changed history. Gaza, our southern gate, will open wide, Gazans will move away to the whole world and the people of Israel will settle Gaza.”

Housing Minister Yitzhak Goldknopf of United Torah Judaism delivered the support of the Haredi community to the conference. “I will support correcting the injustice and returning to Gush Katif and the Gaza Strip,” he said on stage, to great applause. “The settlement of Gush Katif will burn in the enemy’s consciousness and increase the security of the people of Israel… If indeed the Israeli government makes such a decision, as the Minister of Construction and Housing I will work to implement the government’s decision and restore our days as before,” he promised.

Minister Gadi Eisenkot (National Union), the former IDF chief of staff who did his best to reduce the fighting capability of the IDF and Israel’s capacity to produce its own weapons and ammunition, on Monday morning tweeted his condemnation of the ministers and MKs who “find time for an event that divides Israeli society.”

“Everyone who participated yesterday in the event at the ICC didn’t learn anything from the events of the past year about the importance of actions with a broad national consensus and solidarity in Israeli society,” Eisenkot rebuked.

Like the Royal Bourbons, the retired General has learned nothing and forgotten nothing. Luckily for the rest of us, the segment of the nation that was attacked brutally by him and the rest of the security apparatus, will never again be punched in the face and say it was a loving caress from our brothers and sisters on the other side.

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