Jewish settlers set their sights on Gaza beachfront

Who wouldn’t want a house on the beach? For some on Israel’s far-right, desirable beachfront now includes the sands of Gaza. Just ask Daniella Weiss, 78, the grandmother of Israel’s settler movement, who says she already has a list of 500 families ready to move to Gaza immediately. “I have friends in Tel Aviv,” she says, “so they say, ‘Don’t forget to keep for me a plot near the coast in Gaza,’ because it’s a beautiful, beautiful coast, beautiful golden sand”.

She tells them the plots on the coast are already booked. Mrs Weiss heads a radical settler organisation called Nachala, or homeland. For decades, she has been kickstarting Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, on Palestinian land captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Some in the settler movement have cherished the dream – or pipedream – of returning to Gaza since 2005, when Israel ordered a unilateral pullout, 21 settlements were dismantled and about 9,000 settlers were evacuated by the army. (Reporting from Gaza at the time, I saw many who were literally dragged out.) Many settlers saw all this as a betrayal by the state, and a strategic mistake.

Shimon has lived in Gaza in the past and claims a God-given right to return. “We must do it. It’s part of Israel area,” he says. “This is the land that God gave us, and you couldn’t go to God and tell him, ‘OK you gave me, and I gave to other people.’ No. I believe in the end we will go back to Gaza.”


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